If you’ve ever eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant, chances are you had injera. The super-thin, spongy and deliciously tangy flatbread is a staple of Ethiopian cuisine and always on the menu. For me, the handful of times that I’ve had injera have actually been the highlight of the meal; I don’t remember what else I had but I do remember the bread, and I remember that it was delicious every time.
Luckily I recently found out that it’s actually quite easy to make injera at home, you need only few ingredients that are widely available and you also need a bit of patience because injera batter takes about two days to get ready. The reason for that is that it needs to ferment in order to develop its signature tanginess, similar to a sourdough starter. But of course, the fermentation process is completely hands-off, so there’s actually very little work involved.
Injera is baked in a hot pan on the stovetop, similar to a pancake, and what gives the bread its chocolate mousse-like color is its main ingredient: teff flour. Teff flour is a dark brown powder made from – you guessed it – teff, which is a grass native to Ethiopia and Eritrea. I had never heard of teff before I looked into making injera and thought it must be an obscure ingredient, but to my surprise I actually found it on the shelf in my local grocery store along with the more common flours.
I closely adapted this injera recipe from Food Network; basically the only modification I made to the ingredient list was to make my own self–rising flour from all-purpose, baking powder and salt. The recipe worked flawlessly and the only opportunity for slip-ups that I found was to leave the batter too thick. Thick batter makes thick bread and that doesn’t taste good at all! You have to add enough water to get a truly runny consistency that can easily spread around the pan into a bread that’s as thin as a crepe.
So how do you eat injera? My suggestion is to top it with a flavorful cilantro mango chutney that’s spicy and fruity and bursting with fresh herb flavor. You can roll the injera up around it and just eat it with your hands.
This recipe makes about 25 injera, which is easily enough to feed a family of six. If you don’t want or need that much you can cut the recipe in half, it works just as well but you will need to measure out 1/16 of a teaspoon of yeast, so having at least a 1/8 teaspoon measure that you can fill half is essential.