Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

injera the staple food or bread of ethiopia which is leavened with yeast or sourdough. It can be made of tef (the traditional grain), barley flour, cornflour (see maize), rice flour, sorghum, or wheat. There are Somali, Djiboutian, and Yemeni equivalents. It is central to the Ethiopian consciousness. ‘Have you eaten injera today?’ is a standard greeting. ‘He has no wat’ (sauce) on his injera’ means ‘He’s desperately poor’.

A dough is allowed to ferment for several days. It is baked into large pancakes on a ceramic plate placed over the fire or on an electric griddle. The bottom side is smooth, the top is perforated with many small holes (as a crumpet). The injera is spread out and the stew or wat (or multiple examples of them, plus a salad) is placed upon it. The right hand then tears off a piece and uses it to spoon up the cooked accompaniment. The bread is at once plate and eating utensil as well as food.