In Italy you have pasta. In much of Asia and Central America, you have rice. In many other countries you have bread. And in Ethiopia you have injera. Injera is the staple served with almost every Ethiopian meal, and while for some this slightly sour and porous crepe may be an acquired taste, for many others it is deeply cherished and devoured with greed. Injera is made with teff grain flour, which is mixed with water and then started to ferment with ersho, a mixture of yeasts and active bacteria. The mixture is then poured onto a wide griddle and cooked like a spongy pancake. Several “wots”, or stews loaded with spices, both vegetables and meat, are then dropped on top and you are ready to eat.
There is evidence of teff grain cultivation in Ethiopia as early as 3350 BC. although the first “mitad” – the traditional round griddle used to make injera – dates back to around 600 AD. The true development of the dish can never be properly traced. , although you can count on a few thousand years of history for this thing.
Injera is literally everywhere in Ethiopia – you can’t miss it. For a great introduction, however, as well as many other Ethiopian culture highlights, try Yod Abyssinia in Addis Ababa.
In Sydney, sample Ethiopian cuisine at Jambo Jambo Ethiopian Restaurant (jambojamborestaurant.com.au) in Glebe. In Melbourne, head to Footscray and try Ras Dashen (rasdashenethiopianrestaurant.com).
ONE MORE THING
Injera is usually served communally, a large pancake with wots for a group of people who all eat with their hands, using several rolls of injera to pick up. In this way, the injera serves as a tablecloth, cooking utensil and main course. Perfection.