Saturday, October 15, 2011

How We Make Injera

The weather is getting colder.  Time to make injera!

Actually, I started making it on Sunday and ate it for the first time this Fall at lunch time today: three pieces to go with with spicy soup.

Injera has the world's simplest sponge recipe: in a mixing bowl whisk together
  • two cups of teff flour
  • one teaspoon yeast
  • three cups of warm water.

Preheat the oven to just over 100 degrees, then turn off the oven.  Put the bowl in the oven and forget about it until you use your oven that day or until the next morning.

Each day, add a quarter cup more teff flour, perhaps some more water, whisk again, and return to the warm oven.

After three days it has fermented enough to be ready to cook, although you can wait additional days without problem.  No ingredients are added: the "sponge" is now "batter".

A few tricks make the potentially tricky task very simple.  Get these right and the pancakes come off easily and when you are done the griddle or skillet dusts clean with a dry rag.  Ignore them and the batter sticks like crazy.
  1. The batter should be slightly thicker than stew.  It is not as thick as dough.  But it is thicker than crêpe batter.  Add extra teff flour to thicken the batter appropriately.
  2. Use a cast iron griddle or skillet with a glass lid.  Trust me that this is a huge help.
  3. Spray oil onto the griddle/skillet before starting.  No need to reapply oil between pancakes unless you are making a whole lot of them.
  4. Use medium heat, and let the griddle/skillet heat up before you start.  Really.  Once drops of water bounce and sizzle, wait a couple more minutes.
  5. When you pour the batter swirl the griddle/skillet a bit to spread the batter flatter (like a crêpe).
  6. Cover the poured pancake.  Watch it change color, starting at the edges and going to the center.  Uncover it when the center has changed color.  If you like them moist then it's done.  If you prefer them drier then let it cook another minute or two.

Save at least a little as a starter for the next batch.  No need to add more yeast.  Add teff and warm water in that two-to-three ratio until you have replenished your sponge.

During Fall and Winter we often have the bowl of sponge/batter living in our oven for two weeks.  Not only does my wife make great Ethiopian dinners, it is handy at lunch times to be able to make a few injera pancakes to go with some spicy soup or some boxed Indian food.  After two weeks we start to get tired of it, use it all up, wait two or three weeks, and then begin a new batch three days before we want to use it.

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