Injera is a soft, thin pancake-like flatbread made from fermented teff batter. A staple food in Ethiopia/Eritrea usually used as a serving base for scooping stews, meat, and vegetables like Doro wat, gomen wat, and much more.
INJERA – What is it?
Injera is a delicious sour flatbread. It’s light and slightly spongy and it’s made with just two ingredients – Teff flour and water. A regular appearance on lunch and dinner tables in Ethiopia.
When talking about injera, what comes to mind is the beautiful air pockets that look like works of art. To achieve these pockets, you really don’t need any leavening. All you need is a good starter.
It has a consistency somewhere between a pancake and a crepe with a distinctive fermented tang, and it is served with almost everything.
A special pan is used for making injera. It is called…..however; you can make perfect injera without the…… I used a 12 inch round nonstick pan, and it worked out beautifully well.
ABOUT TEFF FLOUR
Teff is an ancient super grain and one of the most important grains in Ethiopia. It grows in the high land of Ethiopia, and it has been cultivated for thousands of years.
It is highly nutritious, gluten-free, and it is rich in protein, calcium, and iron.
Teff is probably the smallest grain in the world. It is so fine, just like sand with a mild, slightly nutty taste. It is the main ingredient for making traditional injera because it gives a bubbly texture when fermented within a short period of time.
There are four main processes for making perfect injera. These are the starter, batter, absit, and cooking.
1-Ersho | Starter
The injera starter is also known as Ersho. When making injera, the starter is always where to start. That’s why it is called the starter.
The process of making this is similar to the process of making a sourdough starter. It is made by combining water and teff flour in a 2:1 ratio. The mixture is left to ferment undisturbed in a warm dark place for up to three days to ferment before using for making injera.
When making the starter, it is best to use a non-reactive container like a glass bowl or a food-grade plastic container. Also, be sure to use a fairly large container because the mixture will grow after some time.
How to know the starter is ready?
Foamy water will stay over the starter, and when you tap the starter, little air pockets should pop up to the top.
- You need to place the starter in a warm room to ensure faster fermentation.
- It is best to use a transparent glass bowl in order to be able to observe the fermentation process.
- During fermentation, try to resist the urge to touch the container. This can affect the process.
2-Leet | Dough
The dough is a combination of the starter, teff flour, and water. This should also be done in a glass bowl or a non reactive container with a lid.
In this process, we are dealing with a thick batter that requires a lot of mixing. You can either mix with hand or use a stand machine. I prefer to use a stand machine because it makes the process less stressful.
Once the batter is well mixed, firmly press it down to the bottom of the bowl and add some plain water over it. Don’t mix this water because it’s meant to protect the surface of the dough from molding during fermentation.
Fermentation takes one to seven days depending on how sour you want the batter to be. However, be sure to change the surface water at least every three days in order to have a healthy fermentation process.
The absit acts as an emulsifier—it holds the injera together and it also helps to give it a pleasing texture so that it wouldn’t dry out and turn out crackly after cooking.
To make this, bring some water to a boil, and turn off the heat. Then, mix some room temperature water with some teff flour and pour the mixture inside the boiled water, constantly stirring to prevent lumps until the mixture dissolves.
Turn on the heat again and continue stirring until the mixture thickens.
The absit thickens and forms a crust while cooling down, so I like to stir with some cool water immediately after the absit is done cooking. This will bring down the temperature of the absit and make it less thick. I also like to add some water, just enough to cover the surface of the absit while it cools down to prevent it from forming a crust.
Leave to cool completely before using it.
Troubleshooting injera batter
What to do when the injera batter doesn’t have bubbles
Ideally, after fermentation, you will see tiny bubbles on your batter. If this doesn’t happen for some reason, it’s okay, calm down and don’t throw the batter away.
So what do you do?
Simply add a teaspoon of baking soda inside the batter, stir well, and leave for ten minutes. The batter should start bubbling. Then, you can start cooking.
Although this is not traditional, but it works!
What to do when the batter is too runny
I often hear people say once you make it too runny it’s irreversible. The good news is that it can be reversed. All you have to do is to add some more teff flour until you reach the desired consistency. Be sure to stir well until the teff flour is completely dissolved in the mixture and leave to ferment for an extra day before cooking it.
- Medium-sized glass bowl with a tight-fitting lid or any other non-reactive container with a lid.
- Measuring cup
- Fork or spoon for mixing
- The starter should smell sour but not bad. The longer the starter sits, the more sour it will become.
- After few days, the starter should smell sour. If it smells bad, then it means the starter is spoilt and you will need to start the process all over again.
- Add water to the batter a little bit at a time because there is a thin line between making it right and getting it too thin.
Other Ethiopian Recipes you may want to try:
- 1 cup Teff flour
- 2 cups water
Injera – The batter
- 5 cups teff flour
- 2 cups dough starter
- 1½-2 cups warm water
- 4 to 6 cups water or as needed
- 3 cups Water
- 1.5 cup Teff flour batter
- 1 cup cold water
- Combine one cup of teff flour with one and a half cups of water. Mix well and store in a glass container or a non-reactive container with a tight-fitting lid. Leave to ferment for 3 to 4 days in a warm place.
- Discard the muddy water above the starter and stir well. It's ready to be used!
- Combine 2 cups of dough starter with 5 cups teff flour and add the 2 cups warm water gradually. You may end up using about 1½ (the consistency should be thick but smooth) Mix with a stand mixer on a medium speed for 5 minutes, or mix with your hands.
- Pour 5 to 6 cups of water over the dough or pour enough to covever it about half inch deepo. Don't mix. Cover it up and leave it to ferment for three days.
- Discard the old water and replace it with a new one. Leave to ferment again for another 3 days.
- Discard the water again. Add 2 cups water, then mix the batter very well.
- Prepare the absit by boiling 3 cups of water. Turn off the heat.
- Add 1-1/2 cup of the batter to the boiled water. Mix well to dissolve.
- Turn on the heat and cook till the absit bubbles—about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add 1 cup of cool water to bring down the temperature of the absit.
- Once the absit is no longer hot (warm to touch) mix it with the injera dough.
- Leave the batter to rest anywhere from 2 to 4 hours or leave overnight. (You should see bubbles rising over the batter). You can cook at this point or leave in the refregerator for later use.
- The consistency should be light and thin but not too thin. The consistency of the batter should be between crepe and pancake.
- Preheat the griddle to 400F (204c). Pour the batter in a circular motion around the surface of the griddle. Wait a few seconds for the holes to appear on the surface of the injera—then cover and cook for one more minute.
After few days, the starter should smell sour. If it smells bad, then it means the starter is spoilt and you will need to start the process all over again.
Add water to the batter a little bit at a time because there is a thin line between making it right and getting it too thin.
If you make this recipe I’d love to see pictures of your creations on Instagram or Facebook. #cheflolaskitchen