My Family Table with Bonnie Wible & Tom Grasty
Guest: Sisay Sabera
Food, family dinners and the traditions of where we grew up are deeply tied to who we are. We hope to share some stories and recipes and learn a little more about each other. We might eat different food, our tables might look different, but we are indeed “One Human Family”.
This episode is devoted to a food that is the foundation of the cuisine of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The food is injera, a spongy sourdough flatbread traditionally made from teff flour and water. Teff is a tiny grain from a variety of grass that is now being hailed as a “superfood” because of its nutritional density.
Our guest is Sisay Sabera, the hospitality director here at Green Acre. We’ll learn about the importance of injera to the Ethiopian culture and to his own family.
Yields: 5 large injera flatbreads
Injera is a fermented flatbread that is a staple of the diets of Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as in neighboring East African countries. Injera is traditionally made from only teff flour and water. Teff is a highly nutritious tiny seed that comes from a variety of grass which has been cultivated for thousands of years in the Horn of Africa. Where teff flour is not available, injera can be made with flour from wheat, barley, millet or sorghum.
The recipe is made in 4 steps beginning with the creation of a fermented starter. The entire process requires two fermentation periods and can take up to six days to make. There are limitless recipe variations for injera, but the one we have is the classic version using only teff flour and distilled or purified water. When covering a glass jar of fermenting starter or dough avoid an airtight seal and instead use plastic wrap or cloth secured with a rubber band. This will allow for the safe expansion of gases that occur during fermentation.
- 11 cups water
- 7 cups teff flour, white or brown
Whisk the 1 cup of lukewarm water into 1 cup of teff flour, stirring until clump free. Pour into a clear wide mouth container and cover. Place the container in a dark area with a minimum temperature of 70 degrees. Allow to rest for 3 days being careful not to disturb. When ready to use, pour off the liquid that has formed on top. Leftover starter can be saved in your refrigerator for future use. To keep a starter active, remember to “feed” it twice a week with fresh teff and water.
In a large bowl, mix by hand 2 cups of starter and 6 cups of teff flour. Slowly mix in 4 cups of lukewarm water, achieving a thick consistency. Knead for 5 minutes, then pack the dough into a large clear container. Pour 4 cups of water over the dough and cover. Store undisturbed for 1 to 3 days; the longer the fermentation period, the more sour the bread will be.
Pour off the water above the dough and mix dough completely. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and whisk in 1 cup of the dough, removing from the heat once the slurry begins to bubble. Stir 2 cups of cold water into the slurry then stir back into the remaining dough. If needed, add more water to create a batter that is pourable, but not too thin, between a crepe and a pancake batter. Cover and allow to rest in a dark area for 2 to 4 hours.
Pour off any water that has separated, saving it to thin the batter if necessary. Heat a non-stick skillet, crepe pan, or oiled cast iron skillet to medium high heat (you can also use the traditional mitad, a round griddle that is also available in electric form). Pour the batter in a circular motion over hot surface waiting for the bubbles to form. When the bubbling is near completion, cover the pan and allow to steam. Once steam has formed, scoop out the injera using a wide spatula and place on parchment paper to cool.