Conventional baked breads in Ethiopia are called dabbo, but the injera, which is a soured pancake made from various grains, is the oldest and most traditional form. The staple grain of Ethiopia is a grass unique to the country called t’ef (Eragrostis Abyssinica). The nearest approximation we can achieve with grains available in Europe is millet. Different forms of millet, such as sorghum, are important staples for poorer countries in tropical Africa and Asia, although the breads made with such flour are not capable of normal leavening.
The recipe I have given here uses wheat, as being more acceptable to home bakers. Barley, millet, rice flour or cornmeal could equally well be tried. Many recipes now use baking powder or yeast to give a start to fermentation or aeration. I suggest using a piece of leaven to give a sour taste, as well as a piece of fermented yeast dough from any bread made the previous day, to aid fermenation.
Injera have to be made in a large frying pan when baking at home. Ethiopian cooks, however, will make them on a flat griddle laid over flames - much larger than anything we normally have in the kitchen cupboard. The injera is laid flat on a dish and fragrant stew (wot or we’t) is piled in the centre for the eater to sample by means of tearing pieces of injera from the edge and using them as scoops.
© 2005 Tom Jaine. All rights reserved.