I have a friend, a violinst with whom I play frequently, who has a lovely little girl she adopted from Ethiopia. Her family is also vegetarian, and we often talk about food. Naturally, the topic once turned to our forays into Ethiopian cooking, and we thought it would be fun to invite my friend and her family over for an Ethiopian meal. They came over today, and we had a lovely visit, as we enjoyed some tasty food and great conversation. Toronto is an amazing city for foodies. Almost everything that is edible and legal is available somewhere in town. Even the most unusual or exotic spices are available down in Kensington Market or in one of the ethnic communities, and vegetables that your grandmother never heard of are sold in huge quantities on the sidewalks in Chinatown. One thing that is harder to procure is kosher injera. The premade pancakes are easy enough to find, but we keep kosher, so those are not an option for us. Luckily, injera is not difficult to make, and the ingredients are not too difficult to find. Because we do not have a huge pan to cook the cakes, our injera are small, personal-size breads, rather than the huge communal ones you find in restaurants, but the flavour is the same. Also, whereas much of the commercially available injera is made with wheat or barley, we make our injera from pure teff flour. This makes it both acceptable for Passover, for those who eat kitnyot, as well as for people who avoid gluten. A double win!
Our recipe is from Flatbreads and Flavours, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.
- 2 cups finely ground teff flour (Bob’s Red Mill is a good brand)
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tsp dry yeast
- 1 cup water
1. Place the flour in a large bowl. Add 2 1/2 cups warm water. Using your fingers to break up any lumps. the batter should be smooth and almost runny.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the remaining 1/2 cup warm water, then stir into the batter. Cover and set aside for 2 – 3 days to sour.
3. When ready to proceed, drain off any water that has separated from the batter and settled on the surface.
4. Bring 1 cup water to a boil and stir in 1/2 cup of the soured batter to blend well. Lower the heat to medium and heat, stirring, until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and cool until just warm to the touch, but not hot. Stir into soured batter. Let rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
5. Preheat large skillet over medium heat. When hot, stir the batter and scoop 1/2 cup batter. Beginning near the outer edge of the pan, slowly pour in a thin stream, moving in a spiral toward the centre of the pan. Tilt the pan so the batter can flow over and fill any gaps. Cover, let cook 2 minutes, and check for done-ness. When done, edges of the injera will begin to curl away from the edge of the pan. If not yet done, wipe the lid dry, cover the pan, and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes. Cook one at a time, keeping the cooked injera warm in a tea towel in a 200F oven. Be warned: it can take a half hour or more to cook all the injera!