How to make Ethiopian injera

How to make Ethiopian injera

Injera, ənǧära እንጀራ [ɨndʒəra]; is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture, originating from the Eritrea and Ethiopia. Traditionally made out of teff flour, it is the national dish of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is central to the dining process in those cultures as bread is the most fundamental component of any Ethiopian or Eritrean meal.[

 

Preparation

Injera is usually made from tiny, iron-rich teff seeds, which are ground into flour. Teff production is limited to certain middle elevations with adequate rainfall, and, as it is a low-yield crop, it is relatively expensive for the average household. As many farmers in the Ethiopian highlands grow their own subsistence grains, wheat, barley, corn, or rice flour are sometimes used to replace some or all of the teff content. Teff seeds are graded according to color, used to make different kinds of injera: nech (white), key or quey (red), and sergegna (mixed). Teff flour is gluten-free.

 

Batter is poured rapidly in a spiral from the outside inwards. Debre Markos, Ethiopia.

To make injera, teff flour is mixed with water. The fermentation process is triggered by adding ersho, a clear, yellow liquid that accumulates on the surface of fermenting teff flour batter and is collected from previous fermentations. Ersho contains (aerobic) Bacillus species and several yeasts (in order of abundance): Candida milleri, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa, Kluyveromyces marxianus, Pichia naganishii and Debaromyces hansenii.[8] [7] The mixture is then allowed to ferment for an average of two to three days, giving it a mildly sour taste. The injera is baked into large, flat pancakes. The dough’s viscosity allows it to be poured onto the baking surface, rather than rolled out, which is unusual for a yeast or sourdough bread.

 

In terms of shape, injera compares to the French crêpe and the Indian dosa as a flatbread cooked in a circle and used as a base for other foods. In taste and texture, it is more similar to the South Indian appam. The bottom surface of the injera, which touches the heating surface, has a relatively smooth texture, while the top is porous. This porous texture makes injera good for scooping up sauces and dishes.

 

Ingredients

Traditionally, injera is made with just two ingredients – Eragrostis tef, also known as teff, an ancient grain from the highlands of Ethiopia, and water. There is little written or known about teff’s origin[10] and while there is no scholarly consensus, some believe that the production of teff dates back as far as 4000 BC. When teff is not available, usually because of location or financial limitations, injera is made by fermenting a variety of different grains, including barley, millet, and sorghum. Teff is, however, the preferred grain for making injera, primarily because of its sensory attributes (color, smell, taste).

 

A variant of injera known as canjeelo is prepared from a dough of plain flour, self-raising flour, warm water, yeast, and salt. The mixture is beaten by hand until soft and creamy.Sorghum is the preferred flour for making canjeelo. There is a sweet-tasting version, and malawah, a variety made with eggs

 

Cooking method

The cooking method for injera has changed little since its origin. Traditionally, the flour is mixed with water and fermented for a short period of time. It is baked by pouring the mixture onto a giant circular griddle, known as a mitad.

 

Injera being cooked on a griddle.

Baking surface

Baking is done on a circular griddle – either a large black clay plate over a fire or a specialized electric stove. The griddle is known as a mitad (ምጣድ) (in Amharic) or mogogo (ሞጎጎ) (in Tigrinya). Mitads have been found at archaeological sites dating back as far as 600 AD. Nowadays, mitads are no longer always made out of clay, but can also be electric.

 

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