Food for Thought: Stein and Nancy's injera disaster | KNKX

Food for Thought: Stein and Nancy's injera disaster

Jan 23, 2019

Nancy Leson returned from her London vacation telling tales of the wonderful hole-in-the-wall Ethiopian restaurant her son Nate had found.  It's been a while since I've had Ethiopian food, so I thought it would be fun to make my own dinner, including own home made injera.

Injera, a sour flatbread/crepe/pancake kind of thing made with teff flour and used to scoop up the food, is central to Ethiopian cuisine. The recipes I found online looked straightforward enough. What could go wrong?

In the interest of science, I made two batches: one raised with yeast, one with some sourdough starter. In both cases I mixed half and half all-purpose flour with teff, added water, stirred it up smooth, covered it and awaited developments. I had them 36 hours later.

Bubble, bubble, toil and big) trouble.

Both batches looked nice and bubbly and tasted plenty sour. I mixed in a bit of baking soda for extra oomph and started pouring pancakes. The results were abysmal.  Instead of the stretchy, chewy, pliable crepe I was hoping for, I got a mealy mess that tasted like compacted talcum powder. 

Meanwhile, Nancy, not to be outdone, had launched her own injera project. Her results were as miserable as mine.  Or as she put it "Ptui! Stein, it was dreadful!" If you'd like to try for better results than hers, here's the recipe she used.

Well, the Beg Wot lamb stew recipe from Afra Cooking came out great and was fine over rice. For the berbere spice blend, I used Kenji's Doro Wot recipe from Serious Eats with just one change. Kenji's calls for a half cup of cayenne pepper, which I consider to be in the riot-control range. I subbed just three tablespoons of Aleppo pepper — all of which smelled warm/sweet/spicy as it heated in a dry skillet.

Ginger, cardamom, fenugreek, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, salt, Aleppo pepper and paprika.
Credit Stein / KNKX

So it shouldn't be a total loss, Nance used her leftover teff flour to make the Bob's Red Mill teff peanut butter cookies, which she pronounced delicious.

Credit Stein / KNKX

"I'm glad that we both failed on this because people often ask me 'Now what is it with you two, you're always baking bread. I'd rather just go to the store and in this case —" I finished her sentence. "You'd rather just go to the store. Me, too."

"If we don't suceed we run the risk of failure." – Dan Quayle