Dee: “I’d read about Ethiopian cuisine but not cooked it, so was looking forward to giving it a go. The most common dishes I saw mentioned were Injera and Doro Wat, so they went straight onto the list. Buticha was described as a hummus like dip, so that also went on and I liked the sound of the Ethiopian tomato salad. The lentils and shiro alecha completed a nice selection of food to sample and we were away. Four hours later and we were ready.”
Injera (pancake bread)
Dee: “Injera are huge pancake like flatbreads that are used as an edible tablecloth in Ethiopia, and diners also tear off pieces of them to scoop up the stews and other dishes that are served on top of them. The correct way of making it is with a grain called Teff, but there was no way I was going to be able to find that, so I had to seek out a substitute. Also in the pictures of meals that I checked while researching the menu, the injera were huge, and we don’t have any pans large enough to make them authentically, so again we had to compromise. The taste is supposed to be quite sour, and the texture quite spongy, owing to a sourdough culture that is incorporated into the mixture, so I had to do my best to replicate that. There is a recipe for an injera in Sally Butcher’s ‘Snackistan’ book, so I used that as a starting point for my version. I was sure I’d read somewhere that teff tasted a bit like Buckwheat flour, so used some of that in my recipe. The finished product didn’t turn out too bad, so I don’t mind sharing the recipe;
The following ingredients will make 8 dinner plate sized injera. We found that two of these were plenty for one person
100g self raising flour
100g buckwheat flour
20g sourdough starter
Large pinch of salt
400g sparkling water
1. Mix all the ingredients for the batter together in a bowl until there are no lumps
2. Cost the bottom of a pancake pan with a little oil and heat the pan until it is hot
3. Turn the heat down a little and add a ladlefull of batter to the pan. Spread it around until it forms a circle.
4. As the injera cooks, small holes will start to appear on the top. When this happens, cover the pan (I used folded tin foil for this) to trap the steam which will help cook the top.
5. Keep checking the pan. The injera will be ready when the texture has firmed up. There is no need to flip it.
Once the injera were done, we served the other dishes on top of them, as shown in the picture below;
So, as you look at the picture, this is what we made;
Top Left corner: Shiro Alecha (Chick pea flour porridge)
Top Right corner: Timatim Selata (Ethiopian tomato salad)
Dee: “Loved this simple but effective salad. We left out the bread and the oil and enjoyed the sharp tastes from the berbere and vinegar.”
In the middle: Doro Wat (Chicken Stew)
Recipe from Maeve O’Meara’s book ‘Food Safari’
Dee: “This took a long long time to cook but was worth the wait. I think next time I make it though I’ll use slightly less ajwan seeds as they have a very strong flavour.”
Bottom Left corner: Mesir Wat (Lentil Stew)
Bottom Right corner: Buticha (Chick Pea puree)
Dee: “I was very pleased with this meal, and it could well be my favourite since starting this blog. Although we had a meat based dish included in the meal, I think Ethiopian cuisine is well suited to meat free dining. In fact, there are certain days in the Ethiopian calendar when eating meat is not allowed. I loved the way the sauces from the various dishes soaked into the injera. Although the injera is supposed to be used as edible cutlery, I have to admit that I used a knife and fork for most of the meal. There’s plenty of it left, so we can enjoy another Ethiopian meal again soon. I also know there’s an Ethiopian restaurant in Brum called the Blue Nile (http://www.birminghambluenilerestaurant.co.uk/) and as they share their name with a brilliant band I think a visit is needed soon.”
Soundtrack: Shambel Belayneh – ‘Arheebu’
Dee: “This is an album from 1999 and sounds like a fusion of traditional and modern songs played on synthesizers with electronic percussion. The songs are all quite long, the shortest coming in at just under 5 minutes, and are generally upbeat with complex melodies. There were even some of those distinctive cries (ululation?) in some of the songs. I enjoyed it, and it created the right atmosphere for the meal.”
Next week: F is for Finland.