Is it bread? A pancake? A crepe on steroids? However you describe it, injera makes an impression.
A staple of east Africa, injera is a national dish of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Cooks there create it from 100% teff, fermented over several days, much like sour dough.
Ethiopians use the large round pancakes as the serving platters for stewlike dishes of goat, beef, chicken or chickpeas. The nutty, slightly sour taste perfectly sets off the spicy hot wots.
But injera does more than provide an edible serving dish. In a culture where eating involves hands rather than utensils, it also provides a way to eat neatly from a communal dish.
For example, pieces of injera allow diners to scoop up foods from serving dishes. In the same way, the pancake serves to sop up delectable meat and vegetable juices. Dipping sauces arrive with rolls of the sourdough flatbread. And for a treat, it comes wrapped around a bit of sweet honeycomb which may even include a honeybee grub.
In the U.S., Ethiopian flatbread has gained popularity as a non-gluten alternative to breads. It makes a nutritious snack spread with nut butter or raw honey.
Ancient Injera Still Popular Today
While teff may have been mentioned in Ethiopian history much earlier, scholars believe the actual injera did not appear until about 500 or 600 a.d. Archeologists base their findings on the appearance of clay mitads or plates in dig sites from that era. The mitads likely functioned as skillets for baking the spongy breads.
Now, of course, the pancakes typically cook to bubbly perfection on large round skillets. In the U.S. these are often electric skillets that can also double as crepe or pizza pans.
At Zinman’s, we grind our own teff and make our own “home-made” injera. Try it sautéed with peppers in our spicy and wheat free vegan Firfir. Or you can order a side of injera with any meal. See menu here.
If you prefer to make your own flatbread, Zinman’s Food Shop carries 100% ground teff.
Either way, we invite you to try our wholesome product and decide for yourself what you think it is. Will you call it a crepe, a sourdough flatbread, a puffy pancake? Whatever you call it, we think you will agree those ancient Ethiopians were on to something good.