Friday, September 2, 2011

Ethiopian dinner party

After the success of the Mexican fiesta a few weeks ago, I invited my Dad and family from his second marriage over for a meal. This time my plan was to cook some Ethiopian food as I thought it would be something they would appreciate not having tried it previously.

A few weeks prior, I was delighted to find that my health food store had just begun stocking teff flour. I had been searching high and low for this authentic ingredient for some time and to have it magically appear after I had given up all hope was a lovely surprise. My previous injera attempt which I never got around to posting about was using red sorghum flour which is supposed to be the best alternative to teff flour. This injera recipe from The Sour Dough is the updated recipe I have been using which has worked well with both red sorghum and teff flours.

For the stews (which are really more like curries), I cooked up a double batch of our favourite powdered chickpea stew and a mixed vegetable stew with pumpkin, broccoli and cauliflower, both from World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown. I also made a couple of other stews trialled once before, a split pea stew adapted from Vegan Dad and a silverbeet stew inspired by Appetite for Reduction.

Vegan Dad's split pea stew is a recipe that is written using a pressure cooker which I don't own. He also listed plain margarine as an ingredient so I subbed in some nitter kibbeh (spiced clarified margarine) and omitted some of his spices that are also a component of nitter kibbeh. I cooked in the style of other Ethiopian stews, by initially dry-frying the onions, then adding nitter kibbeh, spices, garlic and ginger and also increased the cooking time considerably to ensure the split peas were soft enough.

It was interesting that out of the 4 stews, everyone seemed to have their own preference for the one they liked the most. Dad was incredibly impressed with the split pea stew which I was calling the soup stew. I adore split peas and only used to include them in soups although this has changed recently. When I use split peas in anything other than soup, the man usually comments that it tastes like soup which doesn't bother me at all being the soup lover I am.

I kept my dessert very simple and made lemon bars from The Joy of Vegan Baking which were a big hit. I don't really have a sweet tooth but lemon bars are definitely my type of indulgence. Although it was the second time I had made them, I haven't taken a photo either time to prove it! Speaking of photos, I didn't capture any on the night so the shot at the top is some lunch leftovers of injera with powdered chickpeas and split pea stews.

Overall it was a fantastic dinner which was only dampened by the loss of my engagement ring. Thankfully, it did turn up the next day!

Teff Injera (Adapted from The Sour Dough)

Day 1 - Set-up the starter

1/2 cup teff flour (or red sorghum flour)
1/8 teaspoon yeast
3/4 cup room temperature water

Mix the teff flour, yeast and water in a container until well combined and no lumps remain. Cover loosely with a lid and store in a warm place.

Day 3 - Feed the starter

1/3 cup teff flour (or red sorghum flour)
1/2 cup water

Open the container (be aware that the smell can be pretty intense) and observe little bubbles rising to the surface. Stir through the teff flour and water until well combined. Cover loosely with a lid.

Day 5 - Final feed of starter

1/3 cup teff flour (or red sorghum flour)
1/2 cup water

If you are planning to make injera for dinner, feed the starter in the morning. Stir through the teff flour and water until well combined.Leave covered for at least 4 hours.

Day 5 - Making Injera

2 cups self-raising flour (wholemeal SR flour works too)
enough room temperature water to make a thin mixture

After the final feeding has taken place 4 hours ago, add the self-raising flour and enough water to make a thin mixture to the starter and stir until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain. It should resemble a thin pancake mixture. Cover and leave for 4 hours.

When you are ready to make the injera, give the mixture a final stir.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and spray lightly with olive oil. Add about 1/4 cup of mixture at a time, swirling the pan with your other hand to spread the mixture as much as possible. When the mixture on top has set, slide a spatula under the injera and transfer to a plate. Repeat this process until the mixture is used up.

The injera is ready when the centre looks like the edges.

  • Injera is cooked on one side only so don't flip it over like a pancake!
  • If you find the injera is sticking to the pan, spray the pan lightly with olive oil occasionally.
  • The injera is fairly rigid after it is cooked but becomes more spongy and pliable as it cools. When it has cooled a little you should be able to roll them up. 
  • Don't stack the flat cooked injera's on top on each other or they will stick together. You can use baking paper to separate them the cooked injera. I prefer to use two plates, the first to cool down the injera slightly and the second to stack the rolled injera's on.

Ethiopian Split Pea Stew (Adapted from Vegan Dad)

2 onions, diced
3 tablespoons nitter kibbeh
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 cm piece ginger, chopped finely
1 tablespoon berbere (or to taste)
1 tablespoon paprika
2 cups yellow split peas, rinsed well
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 carrots, diced
100g mushrooms, diced
100g baby spinach leaves

Dry fry the onions in a large pot over low-medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Melt the nitteh kibbeh into the onions, then stir through the garlic, ginger, berbere and paprika and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the split peas, water and salt. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Add the carrots and mushrooms and cook for another 30 minutes then stir through the spinach leaves until have just wilted. Season with additional salt, if required.


  1. how bizarre to see this this morning - I dreamt of buying prepackaged ethiopian meal last night and then seeing you in the same store - which is odd as I haven't been thinking about ethiopian food at all - though I do have a few recipes from your blog that I want to make. This looks a fantastic feast

  2. Fantastic! This all looks so delicious, and I can't wait to try the injera. I have very limited bread-making experience, and so I'm really excited to try making injera with a starter. This will be a new experience for me. The wots look very inviting, and it's helpful that you have links to all of your other Ethiopian recipes. I'm looking forward to another evening with my favorite cuisine!

    I'm glad your guests liked the dinner and that you were able to introduce them to something new. That makes for a memorable evening, especially when people are game!

  3. Thanks Johanna, I laughed so much when I read your comment. Dreams can be so weird sometimes! Sounds like a good dream if you can buy pre-packaged Ethiopian food.

    Thanks Cadry. Apart from the total time from start to finish, the bread isn't that difficult to make. Ethiopian is one of my favourite cuisines at the moment too!

  4. Yum! It's been ages since I had Ethiopian food. I'd just about given up on finding teff flour here too (I still haven't seen it anywhere) - I actually ended up bringing some home from Canada in May! Insane, right??? And I *still* haven't made any injeera with it. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Thanks Nachos! I had given up on finding teff flour too and then it just magically appeared one day... That is crazy that you bought some back from Canada. Hope you get around to making some Ethiopian soon, it's fantastic food!

  6. I've decided I will be buying teff flour online or overseas or *something*, because I'm desperate for some injera. I am bookmarking your recipe to make when I do!

  7. Thanks Theresa, the problem with ordering it from an overseas supplier can be getting it through customs, likewise if you are bringing it back yourself. It probably wouldn't hurt to try though. Failing that, the health food shop where I bought the teff flour from has an online store -

  8. I've finally gotten over my fear that it might go wrong and just now started some teff and water. If all goes well, there'll be injera for dinner on Friday!

    1. Your kitchen must be smelling nice and yeasty by now. Hope it turns out well for you and that we get to see some Ethiopian recipes from you soon!