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I've tried making injera 3 times so far, the last time went best, but I struggled a bit with actually cooking them.

Note that I don't typically make pancakes or crepes either, so my familiarity with their techniques is low.

My recipe came from How to Make Ethiopian Injera- Ferment Teff Flour - YouTube. No, it might not be very traditional, but that is not a big consideration for me. I'll mention the overall idea, but prepping the batter went well enough:

  • 2 parts teff, 1 of water bit of salt and yeast. let sit 3 days.
  • add 1 part flour (I subbed amaranth for wheat as one motivation for injera-making is gluten intolerance from my partner). some water. 2 more days.

So, after 5 days I ended with a sourish-as-expected smelling injera and batter somewhere between pancakes and crepes that flowed easily.

But this where things got challenging:

  • I don't have a non-stick pan - I prefer avoiding non-stick surfaces - and am instead using a cast iron pan, on a gas range. I slightly smeared some avocado oil to lessen sticking.

  • Experimented with various heats, from high to medium. The video shows 360 on an electrical plate, so not sure what I am aiming for.

My main problem is achieving a "dry top".

Injera is not supposed to be flipped. While I can achieve something somewhat satisfactory on the bottom side, I found that the top remained rather wet and moist and I could not dry it out sufficiently without burning the bottom.

Nothing I saw in this video or others really gave me any idea of how to do this. If anything the video proposes covering the injera once it starts to bubble which would retain water.

Should I?:

  • Use a lower temperature throughout and let it sit in the pan longer? What duration should I aim for?

  • Try pouring the batter more shallowly? I tried doing that but the cakes tore apart upon removal. I had best results at about 4-6 mm (1/4").

  • Use another flour than amaranth? My first tries were with pure teff and that didn't really work any better with regards to my "wet top" problem.

  • Have more or less water in the batter? I am hesitant about this as the consistency did seem fairly optimal for pouring and spreading.

  • Remove it once it seems cooked at the bottom and let it sit for a few hours? I found my injera improved significantly in that regard after a few hours. They were quite good later, just not great at first. Maybe that's just how it should be prepared?

  • I also tried removing them and finishing them off in the microwave for a few minutes. Not entirely conclusive but it seemed to help a bit.

  • I tried covering. And not covering. The difference wasn't super clear - remember my problem is an overmoist topside so that wasn't intuitively obvious to me (but, yes, noted Esther's remark, quite helpful).

I was pretty happy overall and would like to continue experimenting. Still I would welcome any tips on bettering my cooking technique.

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  • 1
    If wheat flour is a problem, just add more teff flour. I don't know anything about amaranth, but different flours retain water and heat differently.
    – Carmi
    Jul 25, 2022 at 6:18
  • Why don't you want to flip them, only because it isn't traditional? I have made different styles of pancake with teff (but not injera itself) and they all had a tendency of not drying. In fact, the American style pancakes (flipped) usually stayed raw in the middle.
    – rumtscho
    Jul 25, 2022 at 8:58
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    The Injera I've had when I've eaten in Ethiopian restaurants is pretty moist on top, how dry are you expecting the result to be, and do you know what you are comparing it to?
    – GdD
    Jul 25, 2022 at 10:18
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    By "If anything the video proposes covering the injera once it starts to bubble which would retain water", are you implying that you chose not to cover the injera while cooking?
    – Sneftel
    Jul 25, 2022 at 10:42
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    the wetness on top is raw dough, not moisture that escaped from the dough. Covering the pan will make the dough cook on top, which will make them less wet on top
    – Esther
    Jul 25, 2022 at 15:15

4 Answers 4

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I'm no injera expert, but I would suggest two things that come to mind, and one item I picked up from the linked website: If you are using a cast iron pan, make sure that it is very clean and well-seasoned. This will help with any potential sticking, and allow you to use less oil (which may put you in a frying situation). Alternately, a well-seasoned carbon steel pan will do just fine as well. Then, use a lower temperature and be patient. If you are getting burning, it's too hot. Finally, are you covering the injera during cooking? There are several steps for traditional cooking that you might need to review. You should be able to make it work, and the less successful ones are probably still delicious.

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  • Looks promising. I'll wait to see what else people suggest. Agree with needing a very clean pan. And I'll probably post an update when I have better results. Jul 25, 2022 at 15:30
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I've had really good results seasoning cast iron with a mixture of 80% grapeseed oil and 20% beeswax. Melt the wax in the oil and then let it cool.

Not much experience with injera, but I've made a lot of english muffins on a cast iron griddle and experienced similar burning issues early on. It's really easy to overheat the griddle on a gas stove. I use a bit below medium-low to shoot for 375℉.

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As commented by @Esther, covering cooks the top (by steaming it, pretty much) and that is the solution to your "wetness on top", which is raw dough, even if you find that counterintuitive.

I happen to pan-fry all sorts of dough & batter things and covering definitely helps to cook more evenly (also works for a non-Julia-Child-approved slow omlette process to cook the top.)

The "retained water" from covering it when it starts to bubble is steam and steam will transfer heat to the top of the food if you don't just let it escape. After it has cooked, you can uncover the pan to dry some, if needed.

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I’ve only made injera a few times, with various levels of success, but I do know that 1/4 inch is way too thick for injera. The bubbles should go almost all the way through it.

Making sure that it’s properly cooked through should make it more structural, and less likely to fall apart on you, even with it being thinner. It might still be a bit damp when it comes out of the pan, but letting it steam out and cool should help dry it out.

If you still continue to have the same problems, reduce your heat so the bottom cooked slower. I’d aim for medium heat to start, and adjust from there.

I’d also look for a recipe that relies on 100% teff or a non-wheat blend rather than modifying it yourself. The wheat in there is very likely for the gluten to make it easier to manage. You can also look for Somali canjeero recipes which use a part finely ground corn meal and doesn’t require as long to ferment.

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