Injera is a sour flatbread used in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine that is thicker than a crepe but thinner than a pancake and has a delightfully sour taste. Vegetable, lentil, or meat dishes are often served on top of the injera and the food is eaten with your hands, using the injera to scoop up the other dishes.
Traditional injera uses all teff flour, made from the seeds of an annual grass native to the Horn of Africa. Teff is high in protein and fiber and indispensable in Ethiopian cuisine; it also happens to be a gluten-free flour. However, most injera recipes in the United States, like this one, use a combination of teff and all-purpose flour. The flours are mixed with salt and water and left to ferment, giving the injera its pleasant sourdough flavor and spongy texture.
Since the bread is naturally fermented, similar to sourdough, you'll need to plan ahead. The mixture needs to sit out and be stirred occasionally for three or four days. Fermenting foods can be tricky, since temperature, timing, and contaminants can all influence the mixture. Look for the telltale bubbles and sour smell when deciding if your batter is ready.
Gather the ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the teff flour, all-purpose flour, and salt until well mixed.
Add the water, whisking until combined.
Cover loosely with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and let stand, undisturbed, overnight. The batter will be loose and watery.
Gently agitate the mixture with a wooden spoon in the morning (there should be bubbles already forming on the surface, and the fermenting water should have risen to the top).
Cover again and let stand at room temperature, undisturbed, overnight. Repeat the process of agitating the mixture the following morning, and then one more round of overnight resting.
After 3 to 5 days, your injera should smell sour and be bubbly, especially when the bowl is agitated, which means that it's ready. Stir the mixture until combined.
Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Add about 1/3 cup of the batter to the skillet, swirling it around to the edges of the pan to form a thin layer. Cook until bubbles form on the surface, the flatbread begins to look dry, and the edges pull away slightly from the pan. Cover the pan and continue to cook until the flatbread's surface is dry, about 2 minutes.
Using a spatula, remove the injera and transfer to a plate.
Repeat until all of the batter is used, spraying the pan with cooking spray as necessary.
- Check your injera batter often. When it's ready, it should be bubbly and smell sour. If the injera batter has gone bad, it will have an unpleasant, stinky smell. Pitch it and start over.
- To keep from cracking, cover the finished injera with a lid or a lightly damp cloth until all of the injera is cooked and you are ready to eat.
How to Store
- At room temperature, injera will stay fresh for a couple of days. In the fridge, it should be good for up to a week.
- Wrap each flatbread in aluminum foil completely and freeze. You can also layer injera one on top of the other; just use a piece of wax paper in between each layer, wrap in aluminum foil, and tuck them away in a zip-close freezer bag. It will keep in the freezer for up to three months. Of course, the longer it is stored, the more likely the texture and flavor will change.
- These taste best when they are thawed at room temperature for a few hours. You can reheat injera in the microwave in between damp paper towels or in a dry skillet over low heat.
Is Ethiopian Injera Healthy?
Injera is naturally low in fat and a healthy addition to your diet. Teff flour, the main ingredient in injera, is gluten-free and rich in protein and nutrients, and the natural fermentation may help with gut health.