Faux Injera

My version of injera, a spongy, slightly sour flatbread

My version of injera, a spongy, slightly sour flatbread

What is injera?

Injera is a plate-sized, pancake-like flatbread eaten in parts of eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia,) Yemen, and Israel, near the Red Sea. Traditionally it is made from teff, a grass-like grain, which is ground into flour and fermented, resulting in a slightly sour flavor. Teff prices are high, and availability is limited, however, so wheat and other flours are substituted for some or all of the teff flour.

The bread is cooked like a crepe or roti, on a flat pan called a mitad. Bubbles form as it heats, creating a crater-filled surface. The injera is ingeniously used as both a scoop, to wrap around bits of food, and as a utensil. Lining the plate, with stews and sauces placed on top, it absorbs all juices.

A Quick Fix

Fermentation is a slow process, taking from one to three days to produce a soured batter. I wanted to try to create an stand-in without the lengthy and sometimes temperamental ferment.

Adding lemon juice to a savory pancake batter produced a reasonable facsimile, with a spongy texture and mild tang. And because my mitad was in the shop, I used a non-stick skillet. (Just kidding…I’ve never seen a mitad in real life!)

My faux injera are not as large or thin as the real thing, but they were a perfect accompaniment to a north African split-pea stew.

Faux Injera

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 TBS oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup plus 2 TBS water

Mix all ingredients together with a fork or whisk, to make a thin batter.

Heat non-stick frying pan on high heat. When a few drops of water skitter across the surface, the pan is hot enough.

Add about 1 tsp oil to skillet. Pour in 1/4 cup batter and swirl it to spread out slightly. Cook until almost dry on top. Flip over, cook until lightly browned.

Repeat with remaining batter, adding oil each time.

Makes 7 faux injera.

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