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Anjeelo, Anjeero, Injera, Taita
Alicha 1.jpg
Meal consisting of injera and several kinds of wat or tsebhi (stew) or (maraq), typical of Ethiopian, Eritrean, Somali, or Djiboutian cuisine.
Alternative names Lahoh
Type Flatbread
Place of origin Horn of Africa[1]
Region or state Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti
Main ingredients Teff flour (or sometimes wheat, barley, millet, corn, or rice flour)
Variations Canjeero, Lahoh, Kisra
Cookbook: Anjeelo, Anjeero, Injera, Taita  Media: Anjeelo, Anjeero, Injera, Taita

Injera (Amharic: ənǧära እንጀራ [ɨndʒəra]; sometimes transliterated as enjera; or "taita"; Tigrinya: ጣይታ; Somali: Canjeero)[2] is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture. Traditionally made out of teff flour,[3] it is the national dish of Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, and Eritrea. It is central to the dining process in those cultures as bread is the most fundamental component of any meal.[4] While originally specific to Ethiopia and other parts of the Horn of Africa, Jews migrating from that region have spread injera to Israel.

Contents

PreparationEdit

Injera is usually made from tiny, iron-rich teff seeds, which are ground into flour. Teff production is limited to certain middle elevations with adequate rainfall, making it relatively expensive for the average household. As many farmers in the Ethiopian highlands grow their own subsistence grains, wheat, barley, corn, or rice flour are sometimes used to replace some or all of the teff content. Teff flour is gluten free, so there is greater demand for injera that is made only with teff flour. There are also different varieties of injera in Ethiopia, such as tekore (black), nech (white)[clarification needed], and sergegna (mixed).

 
Batter is poured rapidly in a spiral from the outside inwards. Debre Markos, Ethiopia.

To make injera, teff flour is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days, as with a sourdough starter. As a result of this fermentation, injera has a mildly sour taste. The injera is then ready to be baked into large, flat pancakes. The dough's viscosity allows it to be poured onto the baking surface, rather than rolled out, which is unusual for a yeast or sourdough bread.

In terms of shape, injera compares to the French crêpe and the Indian dosa as a flatbread cooked in a circle and used as a base for other foods. The taste and texture, however, are unlike the crêpe and dosa, and more similar to the South Indian appam. The bottom surface of the injera, which touches the heating surface, will have a relatively smooth texture, while the top will become porous. This porous structure allows the injera to be a good bread for scooping up sauces and dishes.

IngredientsEdit

Traditionally, injera is made with Eragrostis tef, also known as teff, an ancient grain from the highlands of Ethiopia.[5] In order to understand the origin of injera, one could look to the origin of the grain grown to make it, but there is little written or known about teff's origin.[6] There is no scholarly consensus, but some have stated that the production of teff dates back as far as 4000 BC.[7][8] When teff is not available, either in Ethiopia or outside the country, injera can be made by fermenting a variety of different grains. Injera has been known to be made with barley, millet, and sorghum when teff is not available, usually because of location or financial limitations.[7] Ideally, injera is always made with teff.

Cooking methodEdit

The cooking method for injera has changed little since its origin. The concept is the same: the grain is mixed with water and fermented for a period of time which may vary depending on which grain is being used. Traditionally, those are the only two ingredients, and the mixture is thinly laid onto a giant circular griddle, or mitad, which has been found at archaeological sites dating back as far as 600 AD.[7] A mitad today does not necessarily have to be made out of clay, but it is still a large circular griddle on which the injera mixture is baked.

 
Injera being cooked on a griddle.

Baking surfaceEdit

Baking is done either on a specialized electric stove or, more traditionally, on a large black clay plate over a fire. This set-up uses a griddle called a mitad (ምጣድ) (in Amharic) or mogogo (ሞጎጎ) (in Tigrinya).

The clay plate can be difficult to use, produce large amounts of smoke, and be dangerous to children. This inefficient cooking method wastes much of the area's limited fuel resources. However, in 2003, an Eritrean research group designed a stove which uses available fuel sources (including dung, locally called kubet) for cooking injera and other foods efficiently, saving the heat from the fuel.[9] This new fuel source paired well with the new type of stove.[10] Several parts of this new stove are made in the central cities of Ethiopia and Eritrea while other parts are molded from clay by women in local areas.

 
Woman checking the baking of an injera in her house. Gheralta, Ethiopia.

Many women in urban areas now use electric injera stoves, which are topped with a large metal plate. In the United States, injera is most often made on an electric Bethany lefse grill, now marketed as "Heritage grill".

Consumption and contemporary useEdit

 
Ethiopian injera with typical spongy texture.

In Ethiopia and Eritrea, a variety of stews, salads (during Ethiopian Orthodox fasting, for which believers abstain from most animal products), and more injera (called injera firfir) are placed on the injera for serving. Using one's hand (traditionally only the right one),[11][12] small pieces of injera are torn and used to grasp the stews and salads for eating. The injera under these stews soaks up the juices and flavors of the foods, and after the stews and salads are gone, this bread is also consumed. Injera is thus simultaneously a food, eating utensil, and plate. When the entire "tablecloth" of injera is gone, the meal is over.

In Ethiopia and Eritrea, injera is eaten daily in virtually every household. Outside of the Horn of Africa and Israel, injera may be found in grocery stores and restaurants specializing in Ethiopian, Somali, and Eritrean cooking.

To the left: an injera stove. To the right: freshly baked injera.

Injera, as previously mentioned, is the most important component of any Ethiopian meal. It is often both the serving platter and utensil for a meal. Hearty stews such as wat are placed on top of the bread and then the meal is eaten by tearing pieces of injera off and scooping up the stews.[7][13] While injera's literal use as the base and staple of any Ethiopian meal has not changed since its creation, its symbolic value has changed. Different varieties of injera can be found in the highlands vs. lowlands of Ethiopia. In the lowlands, injera is often made with sorghum and in the highlands it is more commonly made with barley.[4] Either way, because it is made with something other than teff, its symbolic value has already decreased compared to the symbolic value of injera made with teff. There are symbolic value differences with types of teff as well. White-grained teff is more expensive to buy and thus symbolizes a higher status than its cheaper counterpart, red-grained teff.[4]

VariationsEdit

There are similar variants to injera in other East African countries like Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan. The variant eaten in Somalia and Djibouti is called Canjeero or Laxox, the variant eaten in South Sudan and Sudan is known as kisra.[14] In Somalia, at lunch (referred to as Qaddo), the main meal of the day, injera (known as Canjeero) might also be eaten with a stew (Maraq) or soup.[15] Canjeero, the Somali and the Djiboutian version of injera, is a staple of Somali and Djiboutian cuisine.[16][17]

Outside Ethiopia and EritreaEdit

United StatesEdit

Injera became more prevalent in the United States during a big spike in Ethiopian immigration in the 1980s and 1990s,[18] largely because of the Refugee Act passed in 1980.[19] Teff is now being produced in the United States by the Teff Company in Idaho, making teff more accessible to expatriate Ethiopians.[20]


See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Cauvain, Stanley P.; Young, Linda S. (2009). The ICC Handbook of Cereals, Flour, Dough & Product Testing: Methods and Applications. DEStech Publications, Inc. p. 216. ISBN 9781932078992. Injera is the fermented pancake-like flatbread, which originated in the Horn of Africa. 
  2. ^ Tesfai, Tekie (2011). ዘመናዊ መዝገበ ቓላት ትግርኛ [Modern Tigrinya Dictionary] (in Tigrinya) (2nd ed.). Asmara: Hidri Publishers. p. 1083. ISBN 978-9994801039. 
  3. ^ "Ethiopian Injera Recipe". Exploratorium. 4 October 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c Lyons, Diane; D' Andrea, A. Catherine (September 2003). "Griddles, Ovens, and Agricultural Origins: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Bread Baking in Highland Ethiopia". American Anthropologist. 105 (3): 515–530. doi:10.1525/aa.2003.105.3.515. JSTOR 3566902. 
  5. ^ Jones, Wilbert (2010). "A Taste of Ethiopian Cuisine". Computers & Applied Sciences Complete: 55–56. 
  6. ^ Ingram, Amanda L. (2003). "The Origin and Evolution of Eragrostis Tef (Poaceae) and Related Polyploids: Evidence From Nuclear waxy and Plastid rps16". American Journal of Botany. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University, L. H. Bailey Hortorium: 116–122. doi:10.3732/ajb.90.1.116. JSTOR 4122731. 
  7. ^ a b c d Kloman, Harry (2010). Mesob Across America: Ethiopian Food in the U.S.A. New York: IUniverse. 
  8. ^ Zanteson, Lori (2015). "It's Teff Time". Environmental Nutrition. 38 (11): 8. 
  9. ^ "Ashden awards: REC (formerly ERTC), Eritrea – Local construction of efficient stoves". Ashden. 2003. Retrieved 17 October 2017. 
  10. ^ "Stove Project Pictures". February 2003. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  11. ^ Bhandari, Aparita (15 March 2017). "How to Eat: Ethiopian cuisine is hands-on". Toronto Star. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  12. ^ McManus, Chris (2004). Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Cultures. Harvard University Press. p. 24. ISBN 9780674016132. Other Bantu languages mostly talked about the 'eating hand' and, [...] 
  13. ^ Sokolov, Raymond (1993). "The Teff Also Rises". Natural History. 102 (3): 96. 
  14. ^ Burdett, Avani (2012). Delicatessen Cookbook – Burdett's Delicatessen Recipes: How to make and sell Continental & World Cuisine foods. Springwood emedia. ISBN 9781476144627. 
  15. ^ Abdullahi, Mohamed Diriye (2001), "5: Cuisine and Traditional Dress", Culture and customs of Somalia, Culture and Customs of Africa, Westport, CT: Greenwood, ISBN 9780313313332, ISSN 1530-8367, Injera, known in the north as lahooh, is a thin pancake that is made from batter poured in a circular pattern starting in the center of a hot greased pan..... Sorghum is the preferred flour for making injera, which is common in the countries of the Horn. 
  16. ^ Adriana Chirea (2 July 2012). "Somali Anjero (Canjeero)". vegan-magic.blogspot.com. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  17. ^ Cauvain, Stanley P.; Young, Linda S. (2007). Technology of Breadmaking. Springer. p. 225. ISBN 9780387385655. 
  18. ^ United States. Department of Homeland Security. Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2008. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, 2009.
  19. ^ Chacko, Elizabeth (2003). "Identity and Assimilation among Young Ethiopian Immigrants in Metropolitan Washington". Geographical Review. American Geographical Society. 93 (4): 491–506. doi:10.1111/j.1931-0846.2003.tb00044.x. JSTOR 30033939. 
  20. ^ Weil, Josh (August 1, 2007). "To Ethiopians in America, Bread is a Taste of Home". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2018. 

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit