Last month, I wrote about my Ethiopian friend, Hiwot, and her generosity. She brought me a bag of berbere, her recipe for red lentil wat, homemade injera, AND starter so I could try and make my own. She also directed me to Black Lion market where I bought teff flour, more lentils, and a mitad, the grill on which injera is cooked.
Hiwot sent me a YouTube video about making injera, and let me tell you, I was intimidated. I mean, the man in the tutorial used a fermentation bucket and an airlock. I can make a pie crust in my sleep, and it's rare that in the kitchen, I pause, put my hands on my hips, and think, "Dang. This is gonna take some time and practice!"
Injera made me think exactly that.
But I love a challenge, and so with Hiwot's starter and my new flour and a generous dash of "fake it 'til you make it," I ordered a cheap bucket and airlock (great products and service from Bell's General Store, a brewing-oriented company in Kalamazoo, by the way) and got started.
Injera is a three-part, multi-day process punctuated by lengthy periods of rest time during which the batter ferments (hence the use of the airlock, although Hiwot was like "Huh??" She does NOT use the dang airlock!). If you linger around the batter or crack open the lid of the bucket just a bit, you're whacked with a pleasantly pungent aroma- yeasty, sour...rather what you might expect from fermenting grain and sourdough bread.
Injera is unlike any bread I've ever made. The batter is runny, rather like that for pancakes. And Teff is a very fine flour, the brown variety particularly so.
There's no kneading involved in the making of injera, and ultimately you cook each injera like you would a crepe, batter poured fairly thinly atop a hot griddle-for injera, the mitad-for a brief spell.
I am very pleased with this grill. It's fabulous to be able to set your desired temperature and know that it will remain steady, a must for such quick, needs-to-be-even cooking. Because everything happened so rapidly once I started making the injeras, I don't have many action shots. But here, you can see the "eyes" of the injera popping open.
That's good. Many eyes, the result of active, successful fermentation, produce the spongy texture that injera is known for. The mouthfeel of good injera is an absolute delight, a chewy, pillowy, yeasty pleasure.
Hiwot's was perfect. Mine was too dense and not as pliable, but for a first go, I'm proud. And perhaps the best part was that the kids enjoyed this whole meal. Will wonders never cease?! I even remembered to reserve some of the batter as starter for my next batch.
I sent Hiwot all these pictures, and she was, as always, incredibly lovely and supportive. She also sent me the second video in the series of tutorials she's making me. I know my injera will be so much better next time. And meanwhile, lucky me to have this woman as a friend.