Once I got rid of my sweet tooth, I began to love certain foods that I had never before enjoyed. Ethiopian injera — a type of sourdough flatbread — is one of those foods. As I learned from my allergy experience that eating the same foods (especially grains) every day could prevent my gut from healing, I was interested in making injera from 100% teff as most, if not all, commercially available brands of injera contain at least 50% wheat — a cheaper grain in the United States.
For over 15 years, I have been looking for a 100% teff injera recipe. The only one I had didn’t work. Actually even the 50-50 teff-wheat recipe in the same book didn’t work either. When I met an Ethiopian last year, that didn’t help either as her English wasn’t fluent enough to explain it to me. Even after watching her make it, I was unclear as to what I was looking for before pouring it in the pan to “bake”. Finally, I stumbled upon a blog that gave me the best directions to go on. She used self-rising flour, but nonetheless, this young woman gave me some great ideas that I was able to adapt to my current knowledge of sourdough making. The results?
Injera is confusing to make and get consistent results, especially if you’re going for the 100% teff version. But here’s the basic process:
Put two cups of ground teff in a large bowl with 2 1/2 cups of filtered water. Mix well and cover with a plate. Leave to rise overnight in a warm place. The next day, mix the batter every 3 hours or so and cover again. After 24 hours have passed, pour off any excess water that has settled to the top then add another 1/2 cup of teff flour and 1 cup of water. Replace cover and let rest overnight.
The next few days you can mix the batter occasionally. At the end of the day, pour off the excess water and stir your batter. If your batter is bubbling, add another 1/2 cup of flour and blend your batter either by putting it in a blender or using an immersion blender. Then add another cup of water, mix and cover overnight. The next morning you can mix the batter again, then let rest several hours until ready to “bake”. If the batter isn’t bubbling yet, then keep adding the 1/2 cup of flour with 1 cup of water each night until you reach this stage, then continue with the instructions from where you use the blender. The blender is important as it will produce a more stretchy, less gritty result.
When ready to “bake” the injera, pour off as much of the water floating at the top of the batter as possible. The consistency of the batter should be something like Elmer’s glue (white school paste for non-Americans). This is where it gets difficult because if the batter is too thin, it will crack during the cooking process.
Heat a non-stick ceramic, PFOA-free skillet on medium for several minutes. Take a ladle full of the batter and pour it into the skillet. Gently tilt the skillet until the batter coats the bottom. Once the batter begins “eyeing” (getting little English muffin holes on top), cover the skillet with a tight fitting lid. Allow to bake for 1-2 minutes until thoroughly cooked and shiny on top. Remove to a clean dish towel to dry (make sure to put several layers of paper underneath the towel to absorb the moisture given off. I like to use the paper used to wrap glass bottles in department stores). When cool, stack on a plate. Repeat the baking process until all the injera are baked.
I love to serve injera with traditional Ethiopian fare even though I’m no expert in it, but I make mean Jamaican and Indian curries, so I serve it with that most often.
By the way, the Ethiopians traditionally use an enormous soapstone pan called a “mitad” to bake the injera. These are hard to come by in the U.S., but you can get an electric version. The problem with these is that they have a poisonous non-stick coating just like the majority of non-stick pans in the U.S. It is important that you get a ceramic, PFOA-free pan to bake injera or for any kind of non-stick cooking. These do not leach dangerous chemicals and fluoride into your food. They are also only about $12-20 on Ebay versus the electric mitad which costs well over $100.
If you’re not allergic to other grains, I’ve found that using 1/2 barley flour or 1/2 rice flour in the recipe gives more consistent results every time. Make sure to add them before the blending stage.
Good luck and let me know how your injera comes out!