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What is Injera?

Ground teff is fermented at room temperature, giving injera a tangy flavor.
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  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2014
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Injera is a type of flatbread made in Ethiopia and several other East African nations. The bread is a staple food in Ethiopia, where it is served with almost every meal. True injera is made with teff flour, a gluten free flour produced from teff, a popular African grain. Injera has a distinctive sour flavor and spongy texture which makes it ideally suited to sopping up curries, stews, and other wet dishes.

To make injera, cooks ferment ground teff at room temperature, much like cooks producing sourdough in other parts of the world. The fermentation collects natural yeasts, which provide some loft for the bread and impart a classically sour flavor. It is possible to overferment the teff, potentially creating a borderline alcoholic dough or simply a sour, distasteful dough which will not be pleasant to eat. Cooks who are experimenting with injera may require several tries before they get it right, but they should not despair.

Many people who have eaten at African restaurants are familiar with basic injera. Variations on the flatbread can be made with different types of teff flour, or with flour blends. Some experimental cooks even try mixing ingredients like minced onions into their injera batter, for a unique flavor and texture. In all cases, the finished product will be bubbly with a strong texture which holds up well on the table.

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Once the dough is fermented, it is lightly salted and then fried, either on a griddle or in a large pan. Since teff has no gluten, the bread will not rise, but it will acquire a dense, spongy texture. In Ethiopia, injera often lines serving dishes and pans, with diners tearing small pieces off to scoop up food as needed. In regions where teff is expensive or unavailable, other grains may be used as substitutes, sometimes to the great detriment of general flavor.

To make injera at home, mix three quarters of a cup of teff flour with three and one half cups water. Cover the mixture with a dishcloth, and keep it somewhere warm for a few days, until it starts to bubble and taste sour. This can take three to four days in some climates, with warmer climates requiring less fermentation. Add several pinches of salt to the fermented batter, and then fry it like pancakes with oil. The injera can be served with African food, or used for a fresh take on naan with Indian curries.

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lighth0se33
Post 7

I have a gluten allergy, and I came across information on teff while researching different breads that I could potentially eat. I have been making injera ever since.

In Ethiopia, teff accounts for about a quarter of their grain crops. It’s perfect for this region, because it resists both drought and flood.

Teff is the smallest whole grain in the world, but it is packed with nutrition. I get plenty of protein, fiber, iron, and calcium from the teff I use when making injera. It also contains all eight of the amino acids. What this means is that the protein found in teff is of high quality, like that found in meat or milk.

wavy58
Post 6

@orangey03 - That sounds delicious! I actually do a similar thing with injera and strawberries. Really, the first thing that comes to mind when you see injera is pancakes, so it’s only natural to concoct recipes that would go with them.

First of all, I hate pancakes that don’t absorb syrup or flavors well. When I tried injera on vacation, I knew that it would work perfectly if treated as a pancake. While the taste may be a bit strong for breakfast, I really don’t mind eating a pancake-like bread late at night!

I like to simmer strawberries with sugar and strawberry wine. The alcohol goes great with the injera, and it becomes a very part of the bread in just one minute.

orangey03
Post 5

I like eating injera with rum-flavored syrup. I treat it like alcoholic pancakes, and I have it for dessert after dinner.

I’ve always been a fan of the flavor of rum mixed with bananas and coconut. The fermented taste of injera complements the rum.

I cook dark Karo syrup with rum to give the syrup its consistency. I pour it over the injera, and it soaks into the very core, flavoring every pore. Then I sprinkle the top with cut up bananas, coconut, and toasted pecans.

If you are so inclined, a light drizzle of semi-sweet chocolate across everything adds an extra element of awesomeness. It’s not too overpowering, because the rum and injera are the stars of this show.

shell4life
Post 4

I love eating injera with Puerto Rican chicken and potatoes. The sponginess of the bread soaks up all the delicious juices perfectly, and the chopped onions in both go so well together.

It takes about two days for injera dough to ferment in my warm, humid climate. It is so easy to make! I actually spent a lot more time on the main dish than the bread.

Puerto Rican chicken and potatoes has a lot of tasty fluid for injera to absorb. Pureed red pepper, onion, and garlic mixed with cumin, a bay leaf, tomato sauce, and half a cup of water provide ample flavor and sopping.

strawCake
Post 3

@Azuza - I've had injera before and while it is good, the flavor takes a bit of getting used to. Injera is really good dipped in stew, but I don't think I would like to make a sandwich out of it.

Azuza
Post 2

I'm a little bit surprised injera isn't more popular here in the US. I know there's been kind of a backlash against gluten in the last few years. All of a sudden everyone seems to have gluten sensitivity!

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