Injera – Teff Pancake

Injera is a type of pancake, made with teff flour which is Gluten Free.


It is a staple in the Horn of Africa where the grain, teff, originates. It is a very nutritious, being high in protein and iron, and is gluten free. These qualities have made the grain highly sought-after; and it is now grown in other parts of the world but remains more expensive than many grains.

The injera mix is the consistency of a thin pancake mix (like a crêpe). It is fermented for 2-3 days, which produces a mildly sour taste. To cook, it is poured onto a very lightly greased hot baking surface and covered for 2-3 minutes. The bottom surface of the injera has a smooth texture and the top is porous, looking much like a honeycomb. This texture enables it to absorb the juices and flavours of the stews it is eaten with, in much the same way as chapati.

The pancakes are made up to 60 cm (2 feet) in diameter. If served this large they are the centre-piece of a table, like a tablecloth. Topped with the vegetable, legume and meat dishes, this meal is for friends and family where food and stories are shared. Pieces of the injera are torn off and used to scoop up the ‘toppings’. When the injera is smaller in size, they are stacked like pancakes to serve and eaten individually.

I have bypassed the traditional lengthy method of preparing injera. The guide below requires 1-2 hours for the batter to rise. The injera will still have a spongy texture. If there are insufficient ‘holes’ add baking powder as suggested; and for a tangy taste add a little vinegar.


Diets for which Injera is suitable:

Diabetic, Diary Free, Fodmap, Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Nut Free, Vegetarian and Vegan.

Ingredients

Preparation: 5 mins + 1-2 hrs waiting | Cooking: 15 mins | Serves: 2-3

1/2 cup teff *
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp active yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (optional)

Method

WHISK teff, sugar and water.
COVER and rest for 1-2 hours (depending on the air temperature).
ADD 1/4 cup water (or enough for batter consistency) and, if using, vinegar.
ADD and mix in the baking powder, if using. (This is immediately before cooking.)
HEAT heavy frying pan to a medium high temperature.**
GREASE lightly, removing excess oil with a cloth or paper towel.

POUR batter into the pan, tilting the pan from side to side to spread the batter if necessary. (For a 22cm/9inch pan, one pancake requires 1/3-1/2 cup of the mix – although you may want to start with a smaller amount to test the consistency of the batter and the required heat of the pan.)
COVER the pan for approximately 2-3 minutes. (The texture of the holes will start to appear immediately.)***
REMOVE the lid. (The pancake will be cooked when the centre is set and the edges lift easily off the pan, ie 3-5 minutes.)****
COOL. (The crisp edges will soften as it cools.)

Serve

– Place pancakes in the centre of the table surrounded by accompanying dishes.

Notes

* Sorghum and other flours are sometimes mixed with the teff to reduce the cost, teff flour being expensive. But this results in what is considered to be an ‘inferior’ injera (and if wheat flour is added it is unsuitable for Gluten Free and Fodmap diets).

** Use a good non stick thick-bottomed pan or seasoned cast iron skillet.
*** If there are no or less spongy holes, add more baking powder.
**** If the Injera stays gummy and has no holes, there is too much water in the batter.

Other Gluten Free pancake style dishes:

American Buckwheat Waffles