I first had injera at an Ethiopian restaurant in Coffs Harbour, lovely spongy sourdough crepes that are the perfect soaker-upper for spicy stews and curries. But a little internet research discovered they are made with “teff”, or Ethiopian gluten free flour made from a little grain the size of a poppy seed, and being as how I live near a little country town with an African population you can count on your fingers, the idea of trying to make them disappeared for a while.
Then on a run-out-of-eggs day with mushrooms and cream in the fridge and the idea of mushroom crepes that wouldn’t let go, I decided to have a go at making eggless crepes with sourdough culture, and they turned out pretty much exactly as I remembered injera.
So these very inauthentic teff-less injera have become somewhat of a staple in our house, preferred to chapati for going with curry, preferred to flatbread for going with tagines, preferred to crepes for going with creamy garlic mushrooms. And all the better because, if you have sourdough starter, they are practically instant.
The pumpkin stew is slightly more authentic but not much. It’s a surprisingly sweet spicy stew that makes a meal that is mostly pumpkin and still desirable, even this close to the end of a long haul pumpkin season.
The Pumpkin Stew:
Makes four serves. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but like most spice mixes, they are just a sprinkle of this and a dash of that, and everyone no doubt has their own version so if you don’t have an ingredient, you are probably just making a different version.
Pu a heavy pan or pot with a lid on a medium-low heat. Add a large onion finely diced, then, in more or less this order, stirring as you go and keeping it all moving enough so the seeds pop but don’t burn:
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds (not the pods, just the seeds)
- Small thumb of ginger, grated (or a scant teaspoon powder)
- Small thumb of turmeric, grated (or a scant teaspoon powder)
- Chili – more or less depending on how hot your chilis and how hot your taste. I use a teaspoon of dried bishops crown chilis.
- 3 scant teaspoons paprika
- pinch cinnamon
- pinch cloves
- grinding of black pepper and some salt
- 4 heaped cups of pumpkin, chopped into 3 cm pieces
- a jar of tomato passata
- a bit of water, depending on how thick your passata is, just enough to give a nice stew consistency.
Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for about half an hour till the pumpkin is very soft but not disintegrating. Taste and add salt to taste. Sprinkle with fresh coriander.
Meanwhile, make the injera.
My inauthentic injera are just fed sourdough starter, cooked as crepes. So you need to start ahead by feeding your sourdough starter and keeping it in a warm spot for four or five hours, or overnight, till it is bubbly. Add a little water if you need to to get a thin crepe batter.
Wipe a large, flat pan with oil and put it on a medium slow heat.
Add a ladle of batter and use the back of the ladle to spread it thin. Put a lid on the pan and cook slowly till the batter is set but not browning. You generally only cook injera on one side so it should be set all the way through. You may need to flip it onto a plate. They should end up soft and spongy and tender.
Serve under or alongside the pumpkin stew, or any kind of curry or stew really, and break off bits to scoop with.