Friday, September 9, 2011

Behold, The Bald Biddeena (Injera)!

Injera, or biddeena (as it is often referred to in Afaan Oromoo) is by far the most commonly seen food item in Ethiopia. Injera is large, flat, round, a little sour, and crape-like. Frequently it is served with wats (dishes akin to stews or soups, which usually host a lot of onion and birbire spice). Most of the time injera is made from teff, a grain that grows beside wheat and corn around these parts. Other varieties substitute part or all of the teff flour for that of corn or wheat.

Dressing a plate properly with injera is easy. You simply cover the plate and fold the injera inwards where it would otherwise spill over the sides. When wat is served it's poured on top and in the middle of injera. Like most Ethiopian dishes, wats are eaten without forks or spoons. Instead, you use your hands to tear pieces of injera from its outer sides to grab the wat on the middle. With injera-wrapped wat in hand, you're ready to chow down. I suggest checking out your local Ethiopian restaurants to and getting familiar with it.

The photo above was taken from the kitchen of a restaurant in my town that I love. As you can see, the batter was already poured. In case you've looked up the recipe and curious to try making a few on your skillet, the technique is to pour from the outside and spiral inwards. Think crape thin. Cover for maybe a minute then remove injera from heat. The kitchen set up in the photo is not typical - it's better/more efficient with wood fuel. The more common stoves use the '3-rock' system. A 3-rock stove requires three large rocks set close enough together to hold a pot or a surface to make injera on.

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