To most, the cuisine in the so called “Dark Continent” is something of a mystery. I fondly remember my first true foray into African food in a little cafe off main street. Sadly it’s gone now, partially because I think Vancouverites are a little lost in this region. I know I was at first. I had a leg up, though, in the form of a boisterous and jovial fellow at the next table over who was all to happy to show me how best to enjoy my experience. The key was Injera, an Ethiopian flat bread that served as the edible utensil. The man showed me how to use it to eat the strange (but tasty) cassava paste and delicious goat stew.
Traditionally Injera is made using a flour made from Teff. Teff is a grain that is high in protein and calcium, similar to quinoa. It’s also advertised as being gluten-free, but it seems that’s not entirely accurate. Rather the gluten present within it is odd in that it doesn’t trigger those with celiac disease. It may be worth me looking into a loaf of teff bread at some point. Teff also contains some natural yeast, making it perfect for the sour flavoured Injera. Pretty cool cool stuff, no?
So the first thing to do is find the stuff. I honestly expected this to be a lot harder. Online research told me that my best best was health food stores and I managed to find teff flour both at Whole Foods and Save On Foods right across the street from each other and within a twenty minute walk from my house. We’re off to a good start. The teff flour itself has a lovely almost fruity smell that got me very instantly excited. Here’s what you need to start:
400g Teff Flour
Mix the two together in a bowl and let sit for three days. You could do it in less time if you’re in a rush by “seeding” the mixture with a couple of grams of instant yeast, but the full amount of time allows for better flavour. After three days have elapsed you should see plenty of bubbles in the mixture. Again, if on the morning you’re planning on making the Injera you don’t see bubbles seed the batter. When you are ready to make the Injera mix in:
Next up heat a lightly oiled fry pan over medium heat. Pour just enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan and cook until holes form and the the top sets into a solid. The next step is your homemade Fiyyel Wat. Your Goat Stew. Take one of your Injera and put in in a bowl to hold the stew and tear off chunks off the rest and use it to pick up bits of stew and sop up the juices. The flavour of the teff bread is something like olives and compliments the goat stew very well. This is how you properly enjoy Ethiopian Food.
Music to bake to: