Injera: Ethiopia's Super Bread



Teff, Ethiopia's traditional grain, has been enjoying its well-deserved spotlight as a recently discovered superfood. Teff is extremely healthy and nutritious, and certainly worth getting acquainted with. You can find teff in health food and ethnic stores. There is a darker variety and a lighter one, and it's worth trying both to see which you like better.

Teff is most often prepared and eaten in the form of injera, an Ethiopian staple that is best described as a flat, round, spongy pancake with a characteristic flavorful sour taste. The sourness comes from fermentation, which enhances the nutritional value of the grain.

If you've ever tried your hand at sourdough, the process of making injera is very similar: take some teff flour (be sure to sift it first and discard any impurities), mix with water to form thick batter, and leave it be. That's it! No need to add sugar or anything else. I let my batter ferment in a glass bowl with cling film stretched over the top, but covering with a clean kitchen towel would do as well.

An Ethiopian friend told me that in cold weather she adds just a tiny pinch of store-bought bread yeast to speed things up, but waiting an extra day or two does the trick if you have patience. I started my batter on Sunday, and made the injera on Thursday.

Every day, stir your batter. You should see bubbles forming, and a slightly sour, yeasty smell will appear. On the last day, dilute the batter to a consistency you would want for making pancakes. Take a large, very lightly greased pan and ladle some of the batter into it. Cook for a few minutes just as you would pancakes, but without flipping over to the other side.

Traditionally, injera is served with all sorts of dips made of lentils, vegetables and meat, but it's really very versatile. True to our principles of culinary fusion, we enjoy it with tahini, hummus, butter, and cream cheese. Its spongy texture makes it great for sopping stuff up - dips, soups and sauces.

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