If you have never gone for Ethiopian or Eritrean food, I would highly recommend treating yourself to this immensely rich and flavourful combination of spices and textures. The national food of Ethiopia and Eritrea consists of round platter lined with Injera, a sourdough flatbread with a spongy texture, and a variety of stews (meat and veggie) and sometimes salads placed on top.
Using one hand, traditionally your right hand, one tears a piece of injera and uses it to scoop the varying stews and salads. Essentially the injera is your plate and eating utensil. It makes for a rather fun dining experience — much more fun to eat with your hands. 🙂
Because of the way Ethiopian food is eaten, the meal is always a very close, lively event. With each person leaning in and using their hands, there’s no choice but to chat, make conversation, and laugh!
I’ve tried many different places that serve Ethiopian food but I’ve never had the opportunity to make it. But with my newfound interest in teff flour, I thought what better time to learn. I knew I could always search online on how to make injera. There’s nothing you can’t find on the internet anymore. But I really wanted to learn from someone who knows how to make injera authentically. So I set out to find somewhere or someone who could teach me.
It just so happens that on 86st and 118 Avenue, Edmonton, there is a small shop that wholesales their injera to local Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants. It’s called Family Injera and Spices owned by an Ethiopian couple, Saadi & Mohammed. I called and set up a meeting so I could learn how they typically make injera.
Every morning around 5 or 6 a.m., 3-4 women start their morning by turning on their round electric stoves, letting them heat up for a few minutes. Large buckets of injera mix are brought out, mixed the night before allowing it to ferment overnight. The mix includes teff, millet, wheat, barley, yeast and water. According to Saadi, depending on the weather here, she adjusts the amount of water and the temperature of water to make the mix more or less viscous. As well, you can see the addition of other flours take away the gluten free element but injera can be made with only teff flour, making it safe for celiacs.
Once the stoves are warmed and ready, the women take about 1.5 cups of mix and pour it in a circle, starting from the outside and working in a clockwise manner. I was told to pour the batter from up high, moving quickly and making sure to fill in any empty spots on the stove. The batter is left to bake for about 1-1.5 minutes, until bubbles appear, and then covered to complete baking. After about another 45 secs – 1 minute, the lid is removed, and injera is slid off the grill to table where it’s left to cool. Very similar to making pancakes or crepes. Now each woman is working 4 stoves at a time. So after 2 rounds of baking, or 8 injera rounds, and once cooled, the injera is packaged and ready to be sold.
So after watching Saadi making a couple, it was my turn to try. The first few, worked out fairly well but I kept running out of batter before completely filling in the circle. After a few more tries, I figured out the speed and motion and they turned out quite well. I mean, I’m not exactly a pro but practice makes perfect right? 🙂
With a package of my own injera that I made and tummy full of chai tea, I went home thankful for the one of a kind experience. Saadi and the women that worked there were awesome teachers and I’m so very happy that I went to learn.
If you’re looking to try Ethiopian food, there are a couple of locations in Edmonton that I would recommend.
Langano Skies – (780) 432-3334
9920 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 1Y9
Blue Nile Restaurant – 780) 428-5139
11019 107 Avenue Northwest, Edmonton, AB T5H 3G2