Warning: This seems complicated, but after you've done it once or twice, it will become much easier. So don't give up!
After trying and failing to make injera for about a year, I finally was blessed with an Ethiopian woman, Abeba, who has become a very dear friend. Abeba is a wonderful cook and has spent quite a bit of time with me helping me to make injera the way Ethiopians in America make it.
I've made enough successful batches of injera that I now feel comfortable sharing it with my readers. I will give written step-by-step instructions. For the visual learners, I have also uploaded videos demonstrating each step. As people begin their own experimenting with injera, I really hope you'll share your tips, as I have learned so much from other people's successes and mistakes alike. Good luck and don't give up! It might not work the first time, but even Ethiopians don't often get it right on the first try! :) Note: This is how the process works in America. I know that it is affected by altitude, quality of teff, and temperature. So, it may take some experimenting in order to get this to work in other places. For that matter, it may take some experimenting in some of the higher elevation places in America. This is NOT the same process that Ethiopians use in Ethiopia. This is the process that Ethiopians have adapted in order to make injera in America.
1. You need to start with a good strong starter. Click here if you don't know how to make a starter. All of the information contained in this post regarding making your starter is good, accurate information. There are also lots of ways to get a starter going that are quicker (and less smelly) than this method which relies on wild yeast found in the air. You can use a commercial yeast. Or you can even buy a starter from some bakeries. Since I haven't done it these other ways, I don't know how it works. But there is a wealth of information about sourdough starters on the internet. If you are using the "wild yeast" method, you'll need to give your starter at least 2 weeks to build up it's strength. The good news is that once you have a strong starter, as long as you take good care of it, you'll never have to make another one.
2. If your starter (lit in Amharic) is made of any grain other than teff, you'll need to convert it to a teff starter first. This only takes 2 feedings prior to actually starting the process of making injera. I believe it's detailed in the post about making a starter. By doing 2 feedings prior to the actual process, the injera will have more of the sour teff flavor that it's supposed to have.
3. Injera is a 3-step-process. About 8-12 hours is required between each step. I usually do step 1 at night before I go to bed. Then I do step 2 when I wake up the next morning. Then I am ready to cook the injera in the mid-afternoon.
Click here to see a video demonstrating all of the items/ingredients you will need to cook injera.
lid for mitad
sifter or metal strainer
at least 2 plastic containers
something large and flat to remove injera from mitad
Step 1 (The Night Before)
Click here for a video showing the kneading step.
Click here for a video showing the "thinning out" step.
You will need your teff starter. If any liquid has gathered on the top, pour it into the sink. Usually, there will be a dark blackish liquid if you've kept it in the refrigerator. This is okay. But you don't want it mixed in.
I'm sure that with some experimenting, the amounts that I will give can be changed and altered depending on your personal tastes. Just as in America some people prefer whole grain bread, or wheat bread, or rye, or white, injera is a matter of personal preference as well. The amounts I will give produce a medium-dark injera. Most restaurants I've been to serve a more white injera. Most Ethiopians I know prefer to eat the darker injera. Experiment to find what your family likes best. This recipe will make about 10 16 inch injeras.
Start with 2 cups of starter. Mix in 2 cups of teff. The mixture will start out crumbly. You will need to knead (mopkwat) the starter (lit) ALOT!!! The more you knead it, the better the injera will be. If your arm starts hurting, you're doing a good job! As you continue to knead, the dough will become a solid ball. This is good. Knead it for at least 10 minutes. After you've done that, you'll need to begin adding luke-warm water just a little at a time. Add 1/4 cup water at a time, then knead the mixture some more. Once the water is thoroughly mixed in, add another 1/4 cup. Continue doing this until the mixture has become quite thin and watery. The test is to put your hand in, then pull it out. You'll know the consistency is right when the batter slips quickly off your hand, leaving behind just a thin residue of the batter.
Cover the starter with a lid and let it sit on your counter overnight. Go to bed! :)
Step 2 (The Next Morning)
Click here for a video showing the "blending the teff starter" step
Click here for a video showing the "self-rising flour" step
When you wake up in the morning, you will probably see a 3 layered starter (if you have a clear container that is!). The bottom layer will be the tallest layer consisting of injera starter. The middle layer will be a very thin layer of liquid. And the top layer will be another layer of injera starter. This is good. If yours doesn't look like this, just keep going anyway because even if it doesn't turn out good, you'll learn from the experimenting process.
You will need to use a blender for this step. My Ethiopian friend who taught me to make injera said that it must be a blender. She has tried using a food processor and her injera didn't work. So, I've done as she said, and I've been successful.
You will need to gently stir up the injera starter. After you've stirred it, SAVE 1 OR 2 CUPS FOR THE NEXT TIME YOU MAKE INJERA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You will be most upset if you accidentally use all of your starter and don't have any left! Trust me on this one. I'm speaking from personal experience! :) Store the starter in the refrigerator up to a month at a time. It's probably better to pull it out once a week and give it a regular feeding of water and flour, but you can get by with a month. It just might take 2-3 feedings to get it built back up in strength before making injera if you wait that long.
1 cup at a time, you need to blend the starter in the blender. The goal is to get rid of the gritty feel. Alternate settings on the blender. After maybe a minute, rub some of the starter between your fingers. If it feels smooth with only a very slight amount of grit, then it's done. Pour the starter into a clean plastic container after you've blended it up.
Next, you need 3 cups of self-rising flour. Add warm water to it and mix with your hand. The consistency needs to be soupy. After you do this, you'll need to blend it up just like you did the teff starter. It doesn't take as long in the blender though. The goal of this step is to get the mixture smooth and free of lumps of flour. Just as with the teff starter, you'll want to blend it up about 1 cup at a time. When finished, pour it into the container along with the teff starter.
Next, use your hand to thoroughly mix the two mixtures together. The final consistency needs to be thin and watery and soupy. Again, the test is to dip your hand in. If the mixture slides off quickly and leaves a thin residue, the consistency is right. If the consistency doesn't seem right, you can thoroughly mix in more water a little bit at a time until it is right.
Cover it with a lid and let it sit on the counter. Check on it every hour or so. You will notice that the mixture will begin to rise. This is good. In fact, the more it rises, the better the injera will be. Once the rising subsides and the mixture begins to settle back down, put it in the refrigerator for 45 minutes- 1 hour.
Step 3 (The Afternoon)
By the time you put it in the refrigerator, it will be the afternoon (unless you sleep in really late, in which case, your injera probably won't work because too much time will have passed between the steps!)
After the mixture has been in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, it is ready to cook!
Unfortunately, the video I made of the first 3 injeras that I cooked was too long for youtube.com by about 30 seconds! So, I am not able to show the consistency of the injera batter. It should be thin and watery. Just a little thicker than batter for crepes. If it's too thick, it doesn't spread out on the mitad very good.
Heat up your mitad to the highest setting, just slightly above 500 degrees. Each mitad is slightly different, depending on age, heating coil, etc. So you may need to experiment with the temperature. On my Ethiopian friend Abeba's mitad, she uses about 475 degree heat. I have to use 500 degree heat. We have the exact same mitad, but they were purchased at different times.
Once the mitad is good and hot (this takes a little while), you need to sprinkle about 1/2-1 tsp. salt on the surface. Using a damp, clean cloth, rub the salt into the mitad in a circular motion. You must do this after every few injeras. It aids in achieving the ain (bubbles) in the injera. But salt isn't good for the Teflon coating, so try to only use it as needed so that your mitad will last longer. NEVER use oil on the surface!!!!! I read that oil permanently adheres to and changes the properties in the Teflon. I use my mitad only for injera. Never anything else.
Once you have salted the mitad, gently stir the injera batter to get it mixed up and pour approximately 1 cup of the starter onto the hot mitad. In Ethiopia, injera is made by pouring in concentric circles working toward the middle. In America, this method does not work. It produces a very thick injera. Perhaps this has to do with altitude? I don't really know. But I do know what works!
Your pour the starter onto the mitad then pick it up and shake it gently in order to get the starter spread out over the entire surface of the mitad. You may notice the ain starting to appear. This is good. Cover it with the lid. Once steam starts pouring out of the small vent in the mitad, lift the lid just a little to check on the injera. If it has started to lift up a little bit around the edges, it is ready to come off.
If you cook injera too long, it becomes soggy and gummy, as the steam is trapped inside.
Removing the injera is tricky. Well, it's been tricky for me! The first time I dropped half of them into a gummy pile! I use a sufid (Actually, it's smaller than a suffid. I don't remember what it's called) that I bought in Ethiopia. Basically, you need to find something that is the size of the mitad (16 inches) and flat. Using your finger, you gently lift one edge and quickly slide the suffid underneath the injera. Set it down on the sheet, still on the suffid.
The injera will look gummy and not good when you first take it off. As it cools, it becomes the nice spongy consistency of injera.
Often, the first injera won't be good. It might be gummy or lacking in ain. Often though, the rest will turn out okay. So, if the first one isn't good, try another one.
Begin cooking the next injera. After you have the lid on, then go back and remove the injera from the suffid. Lay it on the sheet. Note: If you stack the injeras on top of each other right away, they will stick together and you won't be able to separate them. If you let them cool on a sheet first, then stack them, they will peel apart when you're ready to use them.
Now, I will address the color and taste of injera. Most reseraunts that I have eaten at in America serve a whiter injera. However, as with American bread, darker bread usually contains more nutrients. The same is true of darker teff and darker injera. To make lighter injera you can use ivory teff which is usually the same price as regular teff. It's usually specified that it is ivory. Another way is to experiment with the ratio of teff to other kinds of flour. I have not tried this recipe yet, but an Ethiopian woman who sells injera for a living told me that she uses teff, barley, and self-rising all in equal proportions. Experiment. And let me know what you come up with! Just remember that if you use too much teff, the injera won't have enough ain in it.
So, this has been a lot of information. As with anything, when you've done it a few times, it's easy to forget steps in the process, or information that wasn't so obvious at first. So if you get started and run into a question that I haven't addressed, please feel free to email me with your questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck! :)