(Almost) Instant Injera, Ethiopian savory crepes
Makes 8 ten inch crepes
A fast and straightforward hack of injera, that essential Ethiopian staple. These mild,chewy crepes are by no means authentic, but when you need injera and you need it now this recipe delivers. Seltzer water (or even soda) is sometimes used in American-style pancakes for fluffy results, and applied toward injera it makes a good spongy crepe ready for scooping up saucy Ethiopian stews. Or slathered with jam or almond butter for breakfast. The yogurt and the apple cider vinegar help add a little of the tangy and nuanced flavors that a traditionally fermented batter would have; while I miss the depth that fermentation has, the faux injera have a pleasant light sourness that works well with spicy w’ets.
The high proportion of all purpose flour gives these crepes a lightness similar to restaurant injera. Since teff can be hard to find (but definitely use if you can find it), buckwheat flour is hearty substitute that gives this injera an appropriate hue. Whole wheat flour or even quinoa flour can be used in a pinch.
- 1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup teff flour, buckwheat or whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 1/4 cups plain unflavored, unsweetened seltzer (club soda or sparkling water)
- 3/4 cup (6 ounce container) plain soy yogurt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1. Preheat a 9 to 10 inch seasoned cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Have ready a large dinner plate and a clean dish towel to cover the injera with.
2. In a mixing bowl sift together all purpose flour, teff or buckwheat flour or whole wheat flour, sea salt, and baking soda. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients. In a 4 cup liquid measuring cup whisk together seltzer water, soy yogurt, and vinegar. Pour this into the well of the dry ingredients and use a whisk and vigorously stir for 1 minute, or until smooth and no longer lumpy.
3. Lightly spray the skillet with nonstick cooking spray before baking each injera. The skillet should be hot, and a drops of water flicked onto the surface should sizzle immediately on contact. Find a lid that can loosely sit on top of the skillet; you’ll lightly steam each injera by covering the skillet with this lid.
4. To pour an injera, use 1/2 cup of batter for a 10 inch skillet. Start pouring the batter on the outside of the hot griddle about half an inch from the inside and work in a spiral toward the center. These injera should thin, a little less than 1/4 inch think; thicker than a crepe, but much thinner than American pancake. Tilt the pan to run batter over any holes in the crepe, and immediately cover the top of the pan with the loose-fitting lid. Bake the injera for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes; the injera is done when the top is no longer shiny or wet and it feels firm to the touch. Use a bent spatula or your fingers to pick up the injera and transfer it to a plate. Cover immediately with a clean dish towel.
Injera are baked on one side only, no need to flip them over. Occasionally check the bottom of a cooked injera to make sure you’re not over browning the bottom; the underside of the injera should be relatively pale and not very browned. If they’re getting too brown, turn down the heat slightly so that the next crepe won’t overbrown. If injera stick to the bottom of the skillet, use more nonstick spray. I’ve had the most success with a well seasoned, evenly heated cast iron skillet. The moisture from the steaming injera should also help loosen the crepe; if you bake it without a lid, you may find it drying out too fast and part of the difficulty in removing the injera.
5. Stack injera on top of each other. Keep them covered with a towel to keep moist and soft. Injera taste best when allowed to cool for about 15 minutes, but consumed at room temperature or slightly warm. To reheat injera wrap in moist paper towels and microwave for 25-30 seconds or until soft and pliable.
-A well seasoned cast iron pan is your friend, but in this instance I’ll admit a nonstick pan can work wonders here too. A well seasoned crepe pan is also ideal. A bent spatula (long and narrow with a bent handle, used sometimes for frosting cakes), is a great tool for sliding under the crepe, gently lifting up and releasing it from the the pan.
-Freshly baked injera need to be wrapped up to keep moist just like any skillet flatbread. I use a tortilla warmer with great success just for this task. However, properly stored injera actually taste better (and the texture improves too) as they cool down to room temperature, therefore injera are the ideal bread to make hours or a day before your Ethiopian feast.
-Serve injera either as a “plate” (on top of a real dinner plate, that is), with dollops of different stews on top or on the side of a selection of stews. Serve additional injera stacked on another plate, rolled up like a crepe or folded into quarters like a kerchief. To eat, tear a piece of injera free and use it to pinch or scoop up morsels of food. Eat and be happy.