Enjera: An Ethiopian Food by Tesfu Yiketem

Like most Eritrean and Ethiopian, I have grown up eating “Injera” (in Amharic) made out of “Teff” with stew or “wot” of meat, various pulses or vegetables, spiced with “berbere,” a powdered hot red pepper.

Teff (Eragrostis tef) is one of the smallest grains in the world, less than 1mm in diameter. Teff makes the most valued grain used to make “Injera,” a pancake-like bread and a staple food unique to Ethiopia & Eritrea. In general, there are three main types of Teff: white, red and brown and different varieties of injera, such as nech (white), kay (red) and tikur (black) accordingly. Compared to other teff types, white teff is the most expensive but the most preferred to make injera, whereas red teff is the least preferred and least expensive.

Although teff is the most difficult crop to cultivate, has the lowest yield per hectare (910kgs/ha) and is the most expensive crop, teff cover larger area of cultivated land, in Ethiopia, and its demand is the highest compared to other cereal crops. Teff flour and Injera are also sold at local ethnic grocery stores in the USA. Teff consumed in the U.S. is imported from Ethiopia and also cultivated in Idaho.

Nutrition experts suggest that "TEFF contains 11% protein, 80% complex carbohydrate and 3% fat. It is an excellent source of essential amino acids, especially lysine, the amino acid that is most often deficient in grain foods. Teff contains more lysine than barley, millet, and wheat and slightly less than rice or oats. Teff is also an excellent source of fiber and iron, and has many times the amount of calcium, potassium and other essential minerals found in an equal amount of other grains. Teff is nearly gluten-free, and is gaining popularity in the whole food and Health food industry in the U.S. as an alternative grain for persons with gluten sensitivity. Teff may also have applications for persons with Celiac Disease." (ethnomed.org/cultures/ethiop/teff.html)

Teff Enjera Recipie
99% Teff & 1% Self-Rising Serving for 2 people, yields 5 to 6 Injera...
99% Teff, 1% Self Rising Yeast
1 lb - of Teff Flour
3 cups of luke-warm water
1 teaspoon of yeast
1 Pinch of salt
- a large bowl, for mixing
- large pancake pan, for baking

Injera preparation usually takes two to three days, the teff is milled into powder then mixed in water along yeast and small quantity of flowers. This mix is seaside at room temperature for 2 days so it ferments and rises. During the second day it starts to give tangy aromas as the fermentation releases air bubbles; this is where the Injera's slight tangy taste comes from.

After the fermentation process is finished the mix is cooked on hot flat iron pan called ‘'Mitad'’. A circular motion is used to achieve thin consistency. When the hot pan and the fermented teff mix/batter contact thousands of tiny air bubbles escape, creating thousands of tiny craters/eyes - creating the familiar look of Injera. The side touching the hot “mitad” pan gets its flat look, while the one facing away towards the air has the a porous structure with thousands of mini craters.

Dining "Enjera"

Ethiopian or Eritrean meals are typically served on a large platter around which guests and family gather. Traditionally, a large table-shaped basket was used. The platter is lined with large pieces “injera.” Piles of various food items are placed around the platter with rolled up pieces of injera.Ethiopians or Eritreans do not use eating utensils to eat the various stew. Pieces of the injera are torn off with the fingers of the right hand and used to scoop up and slightly compact the food. Injera is thus simultaneously food, utensil and plate.

Tip: Injera song

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