Here’s another, very key component for an Ethiopian feast – the sour injera pancake!
These pancakes are uniquely sour and bubbly, and go perfectly with lentil dishes, spiced vegetables, and ayib (lemony tofu ‘cheese’).
Usually made with Teff flour and fermented for several days, this recipe uses wheat sourdough starter instead. It is possible to make them with vinegar, soda water and baking powder, but I read that the baking powder reduces the sourness of the vinegar, so I have stuck with my sourdough starter because I find it so easy to use.
Makes 6-8 pancakes.
You will need:
- 2 cups sourdough starter
- 1 cup water (or as much as is needed, depending on the thickness of your starter)
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt to taste
- Oil for frying, as required
- A hand whisk (a fork will do if you don’t have one)
- A frying pan (non-stick is easier!)
- A ladle for measuring out the batter
- A utensil for removing the finished pancake from the pan
1. Place your sourdough starter in a bowl and add the water, stirring slowly with a hand whisk until you have a good smooth batter. You want to add enough water to achieve a thin ‘crepe’ consistency.
Optional: Add about 4 Tbsp flour and additional water, then leave to ferment for 3-4 days before using. If you do this the pancakes will be extra sour and bubbly. The results are still excellent without this extra prep time though.
2. Add the sugar and salt, stirring well. Cover the batter and leave somewhere warm (but not hot, as the yeast like a temperature around body temperature but will die at high temperatures) until ready to use. The sugar will make the yeast go crazy and the mix may start to fizz slightly. This is good, you want the mix to be nice and bubbly, and the final product to be full of holes, like crumpets.
3. When your main dish is nearly ready you can start frying your pancakes. Heat about 1 Tbsp of oil in your pan on a medium heat until it starts to gently smoke, then add a ladle-full of batter to the middle of the pan. Swiftly lift the pan and tilt in one direction then around in a circle until the pan is covered with batter, then return to the heat.
4. Allow the pancake to cook on one side until cooked all the way through – i.e. no need to flip it. You will see the bubbles show through and areas darken dry up as they cook through. As the picture shows, you can see if any of the pancake is still raw as it will be shiny and pale coloured. Allow it to continue cooking until there is no more raw batter, even if this means it gets quite dark on the under-side. Reduce the heat if necessary. Only remove from the pan when it is completely cooked through from the bottom.
Tip: If it’s taking a long time to cook through, then you may need to make your pancake batter thinner by adding a little more water.
5. I recommend tasting your first pancake to decide if you need to make any adjustments before making the next one. Does it need more salt? More water? To be fried in less oil?
6. Heat more oil in the pan and make your next pancake. Roll up the pancake, as in the picture, as this is convenient and avoids them sticking together. Repeat until you have used all of your batter or have made as many pancakes as you think you can eat (we usually go for 2-3 per person). Leave each person’s last pancake unrolled to serve the main dish on.
Add portions of whatever you’re having with your pancakes and then eat by tearing off sections of pancake and using it to scoop up food.