Authentic Teff Injera (B)

April 28, 2006 at 8:59 am (B_, Ethiopian, Grains, Rebecca Wood)


This recipe for traditional tef injera is from the cookbook The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood, but is almost identical to the tef injera recipe in the authentic Ethiopian cookbook I checked out of the library. Wood also has a quick injera that’s made using sourdough starter, but I haven’t tried it.

Wood explains about injera: “The national food of Ethiopia, this large flatbread is used as a plate with other foods placed on top. Another injera is served on the side and torn into pieces to scoop up the food. The bread is served cold accompanied with spicy-hot bean, vegetable and meat dishes.”

Instructions

Combine 2 cups tef flour, 3 cups of filtered water, and 1 tsp. yeast in a 2-quart ceramic or glass bowl. (Wood says if you’re grinding your flour fresh then you can omit the yeast since Tef’s symbiotic yeast provides leavening. ) Cover with a bamboo sushi mat or a clean cloth. Leave out on the counter for 2 days in a warm kitchen or 3 days in a cool kitchen, or until the sponge has a strong and distinctively sour aroma. Water will rise to the top. Slowly and carefully pour of this surface water.

Bring 1 cup of spring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir 1/2 cup of the tef mixture into the boiling water. Reduce the heat to med. and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture thickens slightly and is smooth. (I recommend using a whisk because mine had lumps). Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir this mixture into the soured batter. Add more water if necessary to make a thin batter as for pancakes. Cover and let rest for 1 or 2 hours or until the mixture rises.

Heat a 9-inch crepe pan or skillet that has a tight fitting lid over high heat until a drop of water bounces on the pan’s surface. If using an electric skillet, heat to 420 degrees F. Slowly pour 1/3 cup of the batter into the pan in a thin stream, moving in a spiral from the outer edge of the pan toward the center of the pan. Then til the pan so the batter can flow and cover any gaps. Cover and cook over med-low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the edges of the injera begin to curl away from the pan. Remove immediately and place on a clean coth to cool. When cool, wrap to keep moist. Stir the batter well, then cook the remaining breads in the same way.

If after combining the cooked and raw batters, you will not be able to cook the injera within 2 hours, refrigerate the batter for up to 4 hours, or until it rises. If you are unable to cook the batter when it’s ready, stir in 1/2 tsp. sea salt and refrigerate the batter for up to 24 hours.

She doesn’t say anything about storing longer than 24 hours, but I had leftover batter and just put it back in the fridge and have been making injera for lunch for quite a few days with no problems. It did get a bit more sour after a few days, but I still enjoyed it.

This is supposed to make 4 six-inch breads, but maybe I made mine too thin because mine made six breads. But it’s weird because I definitely used more than 1/3 cup mixture per bread. Maybe it’s because I never ended up pouring off any water. I know the injera is supposed to be soft, but when my friend made it he oiled the skillet a bit so the face-down side ended up a bit crisp, which I thought was tasty. Also, I liked it hot I think a bit better than the more traditional way of eating cold injera. The injera is pretty dark, since Tef is such a dark color, and noticeably sour, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Update: I tried making the injera again, but I only made 3/4 of the recipe. I let it sit for 2 days, but my kitchen was cooler than the last time. One mistake I made was adding the full 1 cup water instead of only 3/4 cup water, but that’s only an extra 1/4 cup, it doesn’t seem like it would make a huge difference. In any case, the batter was incredibly thin, almost the consistency of water. I’m not sure what could have made it so different from last time. Maybe I mis-measured the water initially? Another difference was that I made the injera after two days rather than doing the salt/refrigerate step for a day. But I don’t see why this would make the batter thinner.

Per serving (1/6 of recipe)
Calories 229
Total Fat 2g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 302mg
Carbohydrate 44.4g
Dietary Fiber 8.2g
Sugars 0g
Protein 8.4g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 10%
Iron 27%

Teff is obviously an iron powerhouse, and it’s not bad on calcium or fiber.

Rating: B

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36 Comments

  1. Zene Berhanu said,

    Thank you for the information. I am a native Ethiopian who has lived in the States for over 20 years. I am used to buying the ready made injera at the store. However, I have noticed lately the quality of injera (the teff content) is going down and I am considering to make my own at home. Question is where could I find the teff?
    Thank you

  2. captious said,

    I get my teff flour (note you want the flour, not the whole grain) at
    my local co-op grocery store. I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods. If
    you don’t have a co-op, whole foods, wild oats, or other natural food
    store near you, I’m guessing you could probably buy it online.

    Mine comes from Bob’s Red Mill–their products are often even
    available in regular grocery stores.

    Good luck, and if you try it, let me know how it turns out! I’m
    particularly interested in your opinion since you actually know what
    it’s supposed to taste like!

  3. ken widen said,

    My teff four and water mixture smells quite strong and NOT pleasing, is this normal? I have 100% Teff whole grain flour. I did not use any yeast. After three days it is rising (maybe 30%). How much does your starter rise?
    thanks
    Ken

  4. ken widen said,

    I started another batch or injera starter with yeast, it has a more pleasent smell

  5. Watch said,

    Hi Ken,
    If you real want the real injera, no need to add commercial yeast, baking soda/powder or self-rising flour, which alters the taste and texture of real injera.
    What you need is teff starter (ersho) to leaven the teff mixture (lit).
    I am baking real good decent teff only injera for quite a while now.
    check this for the recipe.
    watchlady.blogspot.com/2007/04/teff-injera.html
    Good luck

  6. Ndingara Ngardingabe said,

    Hello
    I am looking for an authentic ethiopian cookware to make injera. I liv in NYC . Does anyone kow where I can purchase the right pan

  7. SA said,

    Try this blog. (burakaeyae.blogspot.com/2007/02/step-by-step-injera-instructions-real.html)
    Good Luck

  8. Beverly L said,

    I purchased some injera at a local market, but am unsure how it should taste. This injera has wheat flour in its list of ingredients. It tastes unpleasantly sour. Is it supposed to be sour?

  9. Watch said,

    Hi Beverly.
    Good injera definitely tastes sour but not unpleasantly sour. If it does not taste right may be not good.

    Peace
    Watch

  10. Chloé said,

    Hi, you didn’t answer about the smell but I have the same problem and I don’t know at all if it’s normal or not, what I know is only that this smell doesn’t come from teff but from fermentation, since I had it when I made injera with mixed rice/sarazin floors 😦

  11. captious said,

    It’s been a while since I’ve made injera, and so I can’t answer the question about how much it rises. However, I don’t remember the batter ever having an unpleasant smell–just *very* sour. Then again, I like sour, but if you’re not such a fan maybe it would smell unpleasant to you?

  12. Chloé said,

    thank you for your answer but it’s still wierd since I spent a lot of time in Ethiopia, eating nothing but injera so I don’t feel like the ‘sour’ smell would be that terrible for me…anyway I am trying again today, I’ll tell how it went ! 🙂

    • Abe Haile said,

      Hey Chloe, I thought the same thing my first few times making injera. However, since injera is made everywhere in Ethiopia, the smell blends with the air. You can barely notice it there. Yet, here in America, UK, or other outside location it becomes a stronger scent to identify because is not being made everywhere.

  13. Chloé said,

    I found what is the problem with the smell: it happens only when you don’t add yeast. In that case the fermentation of the flour will create some kind of yeast of its own, and the preparation of yeast has a terrible smell ! So here is my advice : don’tforget to put yeast in your injera!

  14. erica said,

    I made a starter from just teff flour and water and it went through a phase of days 3 to probably 10 that was just nasty and stunk up the whole house. Now the starter has evened out to a lovely pleasantly sour smell and I’m really excited to make injera!

  15. Chloé said,

    great but i know nothing about yeast! How do you make a starter withe teff flour and water ?

  16. CLAUDIA said,

    I watched the video referred to earlier (and the written instructions) from BURAKAYAE.BLOGSPOT.COM about making a starter with teff and water. It’s helpful and well made.

    • lily said,

      HI Claudia, i tried to watch the video on BURAKAYAE.BLOGSPOT.COM but couldn’t open it, would you be kind enough to share how to do the starter with teff and water. Hey i am native ethiopian but have no idea how to do that, shame right?
      thanks
      lily

  17. Pam said,

    I tried this recipe for our Ethiopian themed Christmas dinner. I used Bod’s Red Mill teff, quick rising yeast and water. Everything seemed to be moving along as described — fermentation, layer of dark water. On day 3 it smelled unpleasant — not the kind of sour with sour dough bread or the friendship bread that uses a fermented started — really unpleasant. I tried cooking it up — sometimes using a little bit of oil and sometimes sprinkling the pan sith a little bit of salt to keep it from sticking. It looked pretty good, much darker then in restaurants, but the right texture. The taste was horrific. Really, it made us gag. Such a disappointment. I tried to imagine it as a taste one could get used to — and clearly some folks can — but no one at my table could tolerate it. My vegan son (who is a wonderful cook) said that none of his vegan friends have been able to make a decent injera and he is beginning to think that there is a secret to it that us white Americans just don’t know!!! Really, with only three ingredients it is difficult to imagine how it could go so wrong. So, what is the secret??

    • captious said,

      Hi Pam,

      That sounds similar to what happened when I tried to make authentic dosas by letting the blended rice and dal ferment overnight. It never happened to me when I made injera though. Sorry I can’t offer any help. Maybe some of the other readers o this blog will have some suggestions for you.

      Captious

  18. domaw said,

    Injera is extremely hard to make specially 100% Teff Injera, made with 100% teff starter called Irsho, one that is not mixed with wheat, barley and self rising flour. Some say it could be the type of bacteria or the water and so on. Ethiopians eat Teff Injera for every meal of the day and never get fat because the calorie content is low. Also heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, overweight-ness and other diet related issues are low in Ethiopia. What kills Ethiopians is preventable diseases such as infections, parasites and so on. Teff Injera is extremely nutritious and addictive when done right.

  19. maja said,

    I don’t understand why the teff mixture should be boiled in spring water. It kills all the yeast and then it hardly gets the bubbles on its surface when baked.
    I found this:
    http://www.ethiopianrestaurant.com/injera.html

  20. Karen said,

    Hi,
    I started with my regular whole wheat sourdough starter, which was started years ago by a friend with wild kitchen yeast. I fed it the pure Bob’s Red Mill Teff flour 3 times until it came back to a very sour smell. Then I made the recipe below. The results were quite thin, but with very good injera taste. I plan to make a new starter for injera with whole teff which I will grind. My Ethiopian friend says that new teff starter tends to go through a smelly phase. I think this may be due to the different bacteria, rather than the yeast itself, but we’ll soon see.
    http://www.applepiepatispate.com/bread/injera-ethiopian-sourdough-flatbread/

  21. Mark P said,

    My girlfriend and I made this last week. We had the same experience as Pam: it stunk like crazy (not like sourdough but like something that shouldn’t be mentioned), stuck like crazy to the (non-stick) pan, didn’t get many bubbles in the cooked injera (it didn’t look right), and tasted much more sour than it should been (we’ve eaten enough Ethiopian food at restaurants to know what injera should taste like). We followed the recipe exactly–I wonder what went wrong…

    We had much better luck with this recipe
    http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/recipe-injera.html
    (interestingly, published by a science museum)

  22. Michael Ruth said,

    A note about your update:

    You said “One mistake I made was adding the full 1 cup water instead of only 3/4 cup water, but that’s only an extra 1/4 cup, it doesn’t seem like it would make a huge difference.”

    It is true that 1/4 c water is not much water usually, but one must examine this as a ratio or percentage. Using 1 c instead of 3/4 c represents a 33% increase in water. This is most certainly the reason your update batch was much thinner. For instance, in loaf yeast breads, a 33% increase in water would make the dough unmanageable – almost batter-like.

    Thank you for posting the recipe. I intend to try it out.

  23. Selam said,

    Hello,

    Like Zene I’m a native Ethiopian and I just recently started making my own injera. In the past I found it easier to buy from the stores but in the recent years the quality is very low because they’re using less teff and more enriched flour (very unhealthy)

    My sister in law who’s an expert at making injera gave me the similar recipe as yours less the yeast and it came out great. Without the yeast, it does take a couple of more days to get it started but well worth it (in the taste).

    Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  24. Selam said,

    BTW I didn’t buy the special pan for this I actually use my own pan and it comes out great

  25. Naomi said,

    LOL! This recipe was a disaster from start to finish. It didn’t rise. It smelled yeasty at first, then stank like old cheese, the water didn’t come to the top and it stuck to the pan and the top of the injera never finished cooking. I’m not an expert cook, but a pretty competent one and I just couldn’t get it to work.

  26. Dawn said,

    I haven’t tried any injera recipes yet, but I did read this passage in The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood: “Please don’t add teff flour to a yeast bread, however. Like grapes, teff has its own symbiotic yeast, and the synergy between the two is wild. The dough can run amok (this is from firsthand experience) and create a fetid stench that takes hours to air out of the house.”

    That might clear up the mystery for a few people here!

  27. Deeny said,

    Ethiopians only use filtered/spring water in their injera?! Seriously?

    • Helen said,

      Actually, it’s recommended any starter be fed using spring water as chlorinated water kills the yeast.

  28. dani said,

    You can de-chlorinate by just letting water stand for a few hours.
    Not 100%, but a big help.

  29. dani said,

    I think the stinky smell might just mean that you should ferment for longer.

  30. Kitchen Cookware said,

    I just recently started making my own injera. In the past I found it easier to buy from the stores but in the recent years the quality is very low because they’re using less teff and more enriched flour (very unhealthy)

    My sister gave me the similar recipe as yours less the yeast and it came out great. Without the yeast, it does take a couple of more days to get it started but well worth it (in the taste).

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