A Foray into African Flavors
Flash forward to Sunday evening: my stew and greens had been cooking most of the afternoon and smelled delicious. My injera starter (teff and water) was in the oven in an attempt to keep it warm (I would periodically turn it to warm, then turn it off again, as the recipe said to keep it between 75 - 80 degrees); the house is 60-something degrees this time of year. Dinner time was nigh, so I mixed up my batter, heated up my grill pan, added a generous amount of coconut oil, and poured on the batter. I ended up with a gummy mess. I'm not sure if it was the oil (I've since seen recipes that call for a dry pan), or the lack of enough warmth and time to really get the natural yeasts started, or the fact that American-grown teff needs a little help with leavening. Assuming it was just a timing issue, I saved the remaining mixture with the plan to try again this evening. We ate our stew and kale and enjoyed the wonderful flavors (and heat!! I didn't skimp on the ras el hanut and had included a large and hot jalenpeno in the stew) without sopping them up with spongy bread.
I'm very glad I branched out and tried new spices! It is a bit ironic that I made food inspired by Ethiopian cuisine, and ended up making food with spice blends from other countries. I will give the injera another go-round, although I'm guessing I'll need to start from scratch with more leavening agents, which will not happen tonight. I plan on using teff flour in other gluten-free baking recipes in the future. And, I'll keep an eye out for those teff grains, as I think porridge will be a much more forgiving use of this very interesting ingredient.