Injera is a spongy, slightly sour flatbread from Ethiopia and Eritrea, considered to be the national dish of these two countries. It is a “plate”on a plate, with various dishes being piled on it and, using one’s fingers, one breaks off little pieces of the injera to scoop it all up.
Traditionally made with Teff flour, you are just as likely to find Injera made with wheat flour, rice flour or a combination of any of these two; for the simple reason that teff, being the world’s smallest grain, is fairly expensive. In my home, my kids find the taste of teff a little too strong, so I definitely go down the half and half route.
All you need to make Injera is:
- teff flour (or some plain flour or rice flour)
- vegetable oil or ghee for cooking
Injera Recipe without Teff (Easy Injera Recipe)
All you need to do is use equal amounts of rice flour and regular plain flour, and follow the rest of the recipe, as given below.
Gluten Free Injera
Teff flour is gluten free. So if you only use Teff four or half and half with rice flour, your injera will be gluten free.
My Ethiopian culinary introduction began in London when, for a year or so, I had an Ethiopian couple staying next to me. We became fast friends and loved cooking with each other; and on the odd occasion when I didn’t have a date (yes, it happened), I’d volunteer to babysit their two boys, as they also ran a small Ethiopian restaurant.
They taught me how to cook Injera, make my own Berbere and Niter Kibbeh and various Wat (wett/stews) recipes. I ended up cooking in their restaurant kitchen too, whenever they needed extra help, which ended up being more often than I’d anticipated, which was absolutely fine with me!
It was a priceless education, because at that point in time, East and West African cooking was the final frontier for me! I am still in touch with them after all these years and unbelievably, the boys are in their 20s now!
The traditional Injera batter is made then left to stand for 2-3 days, resulting in a strong, sour smell, much like sourdough but much more pungent. My kids absolutely detest it, which is why I use the quick method more often than not. It’s only when I’m having a party or cooking for clients that I go down the malodorous route!
I’ll give you both methods here.
How to serve Injera?
Traditionally served with Ethiopian stews, lentils and vegetables. Doro Wot (above) is a classic topping, along with farmer’s cheese, some spinach and perhaps another stew and vegetable dish. However, this will also go with all manner of curries and Indian sides. As seen in the picture, you place it on a plate and top with whatever you’re serving it with. Alternatively, roll and cut at a diagonal to allow diners to help themselves to the roti.
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Injera Recipe – Ethiopian Flat Bread
- 500 g teff flour (or half plain, half rice)
- 1 litre water
- 1 tsp salt
- vegetable oil or ghee for cooking
- 220 g teff flour
- 220 g plain flour or rice flour or 220g each of rice and plain flour
- 2 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 800 – 1 litre ml warm water
- 125 ml very hot water just off the boil is perfect
- Sift flour into a large bowl.
- Gradually add the water, stirring gently, continuously with a wooden spoon, to mix. It should have the consistency of slightly thicker than usual crêpe batter (runny pancake batter). You might not need all the water.
- Let the batter now sit for 2-3 days, covered with a kitchen paper, on your kitchen counter. This is the point where the batter will ferment, and at the end of it, you'll get a sour smell, much like sourdough.If you live in a warm climate, 2 days will do, otherwise, you might want to go for the whole 3 days.
- Scoop out any liquid floating at the top, and any off colour foam (like a little yellow). Add the salt and stir to combine.
Cooking the injera
- Transfer your batter into a jug, something that will allow you pour it onto the frying pan. Or just use a ladle, it's up to you.I was taught that the easiest way to control the amount of batter poured, was to use a jug with a small spout or even a small coffee/tea pot, because you're aiming for a thin layer.
- Grease your griddle or large frying pan on medium heat. Then pour a layer of the batter, going in a circular motion. Tilt your frying pan to allow the batter to spread, like a pancake.
- Cook until you see air pockets/holes appearing, about 30 seconds, then cover and cook for another minute, at which point, there’ll be lots of steam fighting to escape and when you lift the lid up, you’ll see that the injera is beginning to curl at the edge.
- Slide the Injera onto a large plate, as opposed to lifting with a spatula, the latter will just tear it.
- In a large bowl, mix the yeast with a little bit of the warm water and stir to combine.
- Add whichever 2 flours you’re using, along with the salt.
- Gradually, add more warm water, stirring with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth batter, this time the consistency of thick pancake batter. Again, you may not need all the water.
- Cover with cling film and let stand for 1 hour.
- After an hour, the batter would have increased slightly, give it a stir and pour the hot water, stirring constantly, until you get the thick crêpe batter we mentioned in the traditional method.
- Let stand for 20 minutes, then proceed to cook as above.