Hiyaw, an inspired entrepreneur and talented chef, was an early HBK Incubates member and started his Ethiopian catering company in our kitchens. Injera, a spongy flatbread made with teff flour, an ancient gluten-free grain, is served underneath savory Ethiopian dishes. It’s traditionally used as both food and utensil, so you tear injera into pieces and wrap up bites of food in it, eating the whole package with your hands. Injera’s naturally fermented starter gives it a distinctive sour taste that cuts the richness of long-simmered soups and stews such as Doro Wat.
4 cups/600 g teff flour
5 cups/1135 g water, plus more as needed
1. Whisk together the teff flour and water in a large bowl until a smooth batter forms. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, making sure there’s space between the plastic wrap and the water (air is necessary for proper fermentation).
2. Let the batter sit at room temperature until it is foamy and quite fragrant, 24 hours. Keep the bowl covered the entire time. Do not stir the batter while it’s fermenting.
3. After 24 hours, uncover the batter and if there is water on top, pour it off and discard (stop pouring once the water starts to get mixed with the batter). Whisk the batter until it’s smooth. It should be the consistency of thick pancake batter; if it’s too thick, add a bit more water.
4. Spread a clean kitchen towel over a large work surface. Put a 12-inch/30 cm nonstick skillet over high heat. Once it’s hot (a drop of water will sizzle upon contact), using a fast hand, ladle 3/4 cup/180 ml of the batter into the skillet starting in the middle and quickly moving around in a circle. Swirl the skillet to coat the bottom evenly with the batter—don’t add more batter to fill the gaps. Adjust the heat as necessary so that the injera doesn’t burn, and cook until the surface shows bubbles, about 30 seconds. Cover the skillet with a lid and let the injera cook until the surface loses its gloss, about 2 minutes more. You may need to remove the lid and wipe off the condensation once or twice. Invert the skillet onto a towel, letting the injera fall from the pan; you may have to gently tap the skillet on the work surface to release the bread.
5. Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking the injera between pieces of parchment paper as you go. Serve warm. Leftover injera, still separated by layers of parchment, can be stored in a plastic bag at room temperature for a day. Reheat in a skillet for a minute on each side.
Excerpted from The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez.
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