Saturday, December 6, 2008

Trip to Ethiopia!

Once again, Elra's list provided a great location for the My Kitchen, My World bloggers to travel to this week: Ethiopia.  I am a big fan of ethiopian food, but to be honest, I'd never thought to attempt it myself.  We have several good ethiopian places in town and a cheap, tasty fix can be found readily. 

There are two dishes I love to get when we go out for Ethiopian food, Yemisir Wat and Yemisir Alecha.  We decided to make a version of Yemisir Wat, a lentil dish spiced with a traditional Ethiopian spice blend, which traditionally includes chile peppers, ginger, cloves, coriander, allspice, rue berries, and ajwain. 
We made our wat the lazy way, in a crock pot.  The exact recipe is now lost to cyberland as the site,, is now unacessible (curses!).  In it we put lentils, tomato paste, onion, garlic, and spices, and added peas at the end.  When I can access it, I will update this to add the recipe.  Our wat came out tasty and, while not exactly what I would get at a restaurant, a very servicable attempt.  

We made quick injera to serve with our wat, as I can't imagine ethiopian food without the ever-present springy bread that is used as both a service and eating utensil.  While we did not use the traditional teff flour, the recipe below mimicked the soft, bouncy texture and slight sourness of the bread. (Bob's Red Mill does sell Teff flour at my local natural foods store, for those of you interested in sourcing it.) In my mind the injera made our meal go from an interestingly spiced lentil stew to a true world-at-home experience. 

 We served our wat on the injera, with more on the side.  We shared a communal plate, and yes, we ate with our hands.  

Quick Injera

This recipe approximates the true injera, which is made from a fermented sourdough batter. Most recipes don't call for the lemon juice, but I find it necessary to supply the essential sour flavor that real injera adds to a meal.

6-8 crepes
All-purpose flour -- 1 1/2 cups
Whole wheat flour --1/2 cup
Baking powder -- 1 tablespoon
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
Club soda -- 2 to 2 1/2 cups
Lemons, juice only -- 2 each

Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over a medium flame. Mix the flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the club soda and mix to a smooth batter. It should have the thin consistency of a pancake batter.
Wipe the skillet with a little oil using a paper towel. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the batter into the skillet and spread it with a spatula to make a large crepe. Let bake in the skillet until all the bubbles on top burst and begin to dry out, about 2-3 minutes.
Carefully turn the injera over and cook on second side another minute or two. Try not to brown it too much.
Remove the injera to a warm platter and repeat with the rest of the batter, wiping the skillet clean with an oiled paper towel each time.
After the batter is used up, brush each injera with the lemon juice. Serve immediately or hold covered in a warm oven.
You can substitute buckwheat flour for the whole wheat flour if you like. Or you can just use all white flour. If you can find teff flour at a health food store, by all means use it.


2 teaspoons cumin seeds whole
4 each cloves whole
3/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns whole
1/4 teaspoon allspice whole
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds whole
10 small dried red chiles
1/2 teaspoon ginger grated
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons hungarian paprika
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves ground
In a small frying pan, on a low heat, toast cumin, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, allspice, fenugreek and corainder for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.

Discard stems from chilies. In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, finely grind together the toasted spices and chilies.

Mix in remaining ingredients. Store in refrigerator in a well sealed jar


frieswiththatshake said...

Hey it's Jess, I met you at the potluck last night. I don't know what I was thinking but I have totally read your blog before and you were totally linked on my blog! It was great meeting you last night!

Natashya said...

Looks great! I made an Ethiopian lentil stew for my daughter not too long ago (she is semi-veg and I have to keep trying to find different ways to cook legumes!)
Believe it or not, in our small town where I can not find any special ingredients - the bulk place sells teff!!!
We used to live in the city so the small town (lack of)offerings have taken getting used to.
This was a fun choice.

Elra said...

Fantastic, Laurent!
I've also used Teff flour from Bob's Red Mill. It was delicious.
I have to try to make Yemesir Wat one day.