Saturday, May 1, 2010

Operation: Delicious Injera

This recipe took me years to get right. I have never found a cookbook or blog that had a suitable injera recipe. And it took me a long time to perfect the ratios and timing in this recipe. But the endeavor worked: this is the best injera you'll have outside of Africa. Guaranteed.

So what the fuck is injera? It is the traditional crepe-like sourdough Ethiopian flatbread that is served with virtually every meal in that country. It is indispensable in all of my Ethiopian recipes, as well as some from other regions. At meal time, a large piece of injeera is placed on a plate and all the food is ladled on top of it. Additional injeera is served on the side with which diners scoop up their food. Eating utensils are never used; just use your hands!

This recipe calls for teff flour. Teff is an outrageously nutritious Ethiopian grain that can be tough to find. Big natural food stores occasionally sell ground teff and you can order it online. Ethiopian or African markets also often have it. Also, when at the store, make sure you’re buying ground teff. Teff is the smallest grain in the world, so ground and unground look identical. Always double check to confirm the label says “ground” or “flour.”

Note that this is essentially a sourdough recipe and requires you to let the teff and water ferment for three days before preparation.

3/4 cup ground teff flour
2 3/4 cups water, divided
1.25 cups unbleached white flour
Pinch of salt
Vegetable oil

Mix ground teff with 2 cups of the water and let stand in a bowl covered with a dish towel at room temperature until it bubbles and has turned sour. This will take about 3 days. The fermenting mixture should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter. And if a bit of mold forms on top, don't worry. Just scoop it off and proceed.

After the teff has fermented, whisk in the salt, white flour, and remaining 3/4 cup water.

Heat a 12-inch or larger skillet (or use a dry non-stick pan) over medium heat and brush a light layer of oil, or, more ideally, spray with a shot of cooking spray. Then proceed as you would with a normal pancake or crepe: Pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the hot skillet. About 1/2 cup will make a thin pancake covering the surface of a 12-inch skillet if you spread the batter around immediately by turning and rotating the skillet in the air. The bigger the pan you use, the better. So if you have something larger, use it. Obviously, you’ll scale the amount of batter up or down, depending on skillet size.

Injeera should be thicker than a crêpe, but not as thick as a traditional pancake.

Cook until holes form in the injeera, the top is dry and the edges begin to separate from the pan (about two minutes). Don’t let it turn too brown, and don't flip it over; it is only supposed to be cooked on one side.

Remove from pan by simply sliding or flipping it out onto a cooling rack (using a spatula is not recommended, because the hot injeera often cracks and breaks when you use a spatula) and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, layer wax paper or foil between successive pieces so they don't stick together.

Re-brush pan with oil, if necessary, between injeeras.

Serve at room temperature.


  1. can i sub the wheat with spelt flour

  2. I think that would work... Let me know how it goes!

  3. I was quite shocked to see that this recipe has no yeast or other leavening agent. I always assumed yeast was necessary to ferment and get those bubbles in the final injera, but I'm by no means an expert. Am I wrong?

  4. No yeast necessary. The teff will absorb the yeasts it needs from the air. It's that easy!

  5. Hi,
    This is my first time making injera. Unfortunatly I've never had the opportunity to visit Ethiopia, but my sister and one of my best friends has been there several times. I've only eaten ethiopian food on ethiopian restaurants, but I absolutely love it!!
    So now I've decided to try and make it myself. :) I found teff flour and I have orderd berbere online.
    So, now to my question: when I have mixed water and teff, do I stir it once in a while or just let it be these three days??

  6. Just let it sit and you're good! Cheers!

  7. If I have sourdough starter, could I use that with teff to make injera?

    1. Absolutely! When I lived in Ethiopia, every family used their own starter for each batch. While a wheat flour starter might yield ever-so-slightly different flavor or results, it's a great approach!