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A homemade Ethiopian meal: Kitfo, Raafu, Fuul on freshly made Injera

Here in Portlandia, a city resplendent with good food, we have our choice of tasty Ethiopian restaurants. In fact, we have so many that I choose a different one, depending on the item on the menu I’m most craving and who does that item best. If I want the yummiest Fuul (or I’m in a hurry and want a quick but awesome buffet), I go to Enjoni Cafe — plus they have this very cool coffee ceremony that is totally worth it. If I want the best Kitfo in town and a great family feeling, I head to Dalos (here’s my reviewfrom my days a food critic). If want lamb and spot-on lentils, I hit Sengatera Ethiopian Restaurant and if I am dying for a great chicken Sambusa I go to Horn of Africa. (And that’s only half of what Portland has to offer in Ethiopian fare.) 

But sometimes, you just want to hang out at home (or your budget requires that you hang out at home) and for those times, I decided to embark on a bit of Ethiopian home cooking in my home. Today’s post will be injera but in the days that follow, I will supply you with the rest of these knock-out, homemade recipes for Kitfo, Fuul and Raafu (as pictured above.)

If you’ve ever had Ethiopian, you know it all starts with injera, because injera is your edible plate for this well-spiced meal. For the initiated, injera  is a spongy Ethiopian sourdough pancake-like bread that, because you traditionally eat Ethiopian food with your hands, is wonderful for sopping up the various dishes that will be dotting its fluffy and tangy canvas.

Traditional injera is made with 100% teff flour and is therefore gluten-free but since I was charged (in my final post working with the 11 other bloggers in Virtual Potluck) with making something using King Arthur Flour‘s gluten-free flours and Red Star Yeast and I have not yet found a gluten-free bread recipe that is up to my standards, I decided to go for injera.

You can make injera by using a sourdough starter, like the kind you can win from King Arthur Flour in the prize package below, or if you want to make sure yours is 100% gluten-free, you can make your own teff starter using Red Star yeast, like I did. I decided to start with 100% teff flour (you can find this in Ethiopian markets, natural foods grocers or online) to ensure the true sour flavor of the injera and then to use a mixture of teff flour and KAF’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour for the batter.

The prep for injera (if you don’t have a sourdough or injera starter on hand) takes 5 days to cultivate and only a few minutes to cook. There are endless recipes online about how to make “real” injera and I learned that there is a difference between authentic injera in Ethiopia and authentic injera (made by Ethiopians) in America. What I am making here is close to the injera made by Ethiopians in America (the only difference, really, is the addition of gluten-free flour to make the batter.) If you want to learn more about the cool history of teff check out this post on Serious Eats.

Gluten-Free Injera

Adapted from the Bread Chick (if you want to see some great step-by-step photos and a video head on over to her site and give it some love!)

Starter (takes 5 days)

3/4 cup water, room temperature (70 degrees)
1/2 cup teff flour
1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Day 1: Combine ingredients and mix in the blender, then pour into a lidded container. Cover and let sit for 36 hours at room temperature (around 70 degrees.)

Day 3: Stir your starter, it should be somewhat  foamy an/or puffed up and brain-y looking. There will also be a prominent (some call grassy or yeasty,  others call rotten) fermenting smell. Feed your starter by adding another 1/3 cup teff flour and 1/2 cup room temp water, blending it again before returning it to your lidded bowl. Leave it alone for another 36 hours.

Day 5: Your starter should have separated into distinct layers, this is desirable and not a sign of something done wrong. Stir it. It should be slightly fizzy and have a very strong “grassy” aroma. Feed your starter again, with another 1/3 cup teff flour and 1/2 cup room temp water, blending and returning to your bowl. Cover and allow it to rest for at least 4 hours before making Injera batter. You should have around 2 cups of starter.

Note: If you want to retain some starter for future injera, go until Day 7, following Day 3 instructions on Day 5 and Day 5 instructions on Day 7. This will make enough extra left over starter for you to save for your next batch of Injera in the future (this can be kept for up to a month in your fridge.)

Batter:

Stir starter and then blend the following ingredients, adding dry, a bit at a time, until batter is smooth and the consistency of pancake batter.

  • 2 cups Teff starter
  • 1 1/2 cup King Arthur Gluten-free All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teff flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • Room Temp Water (70 degrees F), as needed, to make batter right consistency

Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft free place and allow to rest for about 4 hours.

Cooking:

You will need an injera pan or large non-stick skillet (do NOT attempt to use a regular skillet with oil, as this will change the injera’s result.)  You will also need baking parchment or wax paper to place between each piece of injera as it cools.

Stir your batter, if the consistency has become too thick, add a little more water, stirring or blending until the right consistency.

Heat your pan on medium and pour a 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of batter (depending on your pan size) into the center of the heated pan, swirl the pan until it spreads out evenly. All ow the injera to cook (without turning) until bubble begin to form and pop in the top of the injera, put a lid on the pan and remove from heat for 7 to 10 minutes to allow the top to cook by steam heat. Do not turn the injera at any point. Once it is cooked remove from pan and set aside to cool. Repeat until you have made the desired amount or until all batter is gone.

The injera’s texture will not be set until it cools, at which point it takes on its spongey characteristic. Also, injera is something, like pancakes or crepes that takes a few practice shots to get just right — so don’t worry if you get a few uglies on your first few tries.

Place cooled Injera on a plate, layering with baking or wax paper to keep them from sticking to one another.

Makes 10 to 20 injera (depending on the size of your pan)

Enter to win

Amy Lammer is The Groovy Foody’s Baker’s Delight Giveaway

WINNER!!

Congratulations Amy!

One lucky winner will receive:

From King Arthur Flour:

From Red Star Yeast:

  • Three (3) strips of Red Star yeast
  • One (1) gorgeous bread loaf pan
  • One (1) awesome adjustable apron
  • One (1) bread knife
If you’re new to baking, check out The Baking Steps Guide and How to Bake videos at Red Star Yeast.

HOW TO ENTER:

Disclaimer: KAF and Red Star ingredients were  provided free of charge in order to facilitate these recipes. No monetary compensation was received for my opinions — they are, as always, truthfully, my own. US mailing addresses only. One (1) winner will be chosen randomly. Prize will be shipped by each company separately. The contest ends Sunday, June 10th, 2012. The winner will be announced on Monday, June 11th, via email and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.