Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ethiopian Injera

Ethiopia, how we love you! Injera is a traditional flatbread made from teff, a teeny tiny grain that packs a lot of nutrition. I sliced it into bite-sized pieces and packed it with a thermos of hot split pea alecha (stew) and a mixed vegetable wat (spicy stew, but not really too spicy). Shmoo ferretted out the last fruit cup in the house, tucked away way back on a pantry shelf, and put it in his lunch box -- mandarin oranges in light syrup. We're trying to cut out refined sugar for Lent, so you can see his desperation mounting here...
Verdict: Shmoo's response to the vegetables surprised me the most: "These are the best vegetables I've ever had!" Uh, really?? I keep trying to figure out what I did right; must be the hearty dose of nitter kebbeh (spice-infused oil). 5 stars.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

A quick question: Did you make the flatbread yourself? Or did you buy it? How available are certain grains like that?
Also -- I love love love your blog. I only wish my lunch looked half as delish. I have half a mind to (next paycheck) get a laptop lunchbox, myself :)

Ginger

eli said...

Maybe Shmoo is starting to like the veggies more since the refined sugar is gone. ;)

And YAY for Ethiopian food! I don't know much about it, but I'm happy to see that it can be made vegan and still be Ethiopian. I used to love it when I was omni, but I seem to recall mostly meat-based dishes...

Hey, Jennifer, you should do a "soul food" lunchbox some time. Being from Texas, chicken fried steak and bacon grease gravy are everyone's excuse for not going vegetarian.

Diane said...

Heh, it is hard to figure out what to give up for Lent when you are already vegan.

TofuForBrains said...

I, too, am curious about the injera. I love Ethiopian food and am always happy about how easy the main dishes are to make. (To Eli above: Because of certain religious holidays, there is a LOT of vegetarian/vegan Ethiopian food!) But I never got the hang of the injera, and my neighborhood Ethiopian place just closed :(. I'd love suggestions about where to buy it or how you managed to make it! Thanks and congrats on the bloggie!

Berrykat said...

arrrg when is the cookbook coming out? I love all these recipes....must be patient...must be patient..lol

Jenni said...

My husband and I are going out for Ethiopian food tonight! If you live in Houston, TX, The Blue Nile on Richmond is amazing. And I, too, would love the injera recipe.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I just read about this type of bread yesterday on www. kapukapu.info, where the author states that she orders it because it is hard to make. I like how you incorporate different cultures into his lunchbox. He will be mighty enriched by this.

Anonymous said...

Is the wat under the injera...

Anonymous said...

www.kapukapu.info seems invalid

michellejoe said...

If you type in Injera on google, you'll come up with several recipes... yum!
And too funny about Shmoo ferreting away the last of Dole cups! LOL

moi said...

Those vegetables LOOK like the best vegetables ever. I love stew, well I only eat the veggies. I'm not a vegan or a vegetarian, I just like vegetables more than meat.

Also, because of reading this blog daily, I decided to try hummus (i don't know if you've ever had it or not It just struck me as something vegan) and vanila soy milk today. I really, really disliked the hummus but the soy milk wasn't too bad. I remember I used to eat tofuti soy ice cream when I was a kid... mainly because my parents realized I was fat. :P

Anonymous said...

To Moi: Keep shopping around for good hummus! I didn't like it until I found a brand that makes it super-smooth and flavors it with spicy red peppers.

To Jennifershmoo: how about a tofu no-egg salad on a sandwich or with some triscuits sometime?

I love your blog! Congrats on your award!
Houston vegans in 'da house!

Anonymous said...

Four Words.... Bugs on a Log.

Celery with peanut butter, topped with raisins.

I remember your Halloween Fingers, and as soon as a young man at the cashier of my grocery store suggested I make bugs on a log with my organic celery, I couldn't wait to leave this suggestion. He said his grandma would make them for him.

I made them, and I was very surpised at how much I liked them - they are tasty.

Catherine said...

You know, I hadn't even noticed the "desserts" were missing, until you mentioned you all were giving up refined sugar for Lent!

the vegan vulcan said...

Dear annonymous bugs-on-a-log-eater,

Don't you know bugs aren't vegan??

Ha. Actually, you made me laugh, because I made bugs on a log for my and my partner's lunch today! Inspired by this blog, I've been trying to make fun things for us. I made the traditional bugs on a log, but I also made some experimental bugs on a log with tofutti cream cheese and flaxseeds. The peanut butter kind were better, I think.

I've never had Ethiopian food, but this looks delish!

Veggie Girl said...

Anonymous^^ - I love bugs (or ants!) on a log! I use to eat that all the time when I was little girl!! Yum!
Moi- Try a different brand of hummus or make your own (there are SO many recipes online). Hummus is really good if you can find a good kind! Good Luck!!

Anonymous said...

I've never tried Ethipoian food before but this looks really interesting! I hope the recipes are in the cookbook, Jennifer!! =)

Anonymous said...

When I was roaming around the net looking for various things mentioned here, I found this amazing looking spice, preserved lemons, etc. site http://store.zamourispices.com/spices.html and this place to buy teff and teff flour http://www.teffco.com/products.html

Jane said...

Ummm, is it too early to inquire whether little shmoo will be going to summer school???

trudy said...

If I did this right, over on the right is a photo of a salad worthy of Jennifer, recipe from the http://store.zamourispices.com site:

1 Head of lettuce cut to small pieces.

1 Fresh tomatoes cut to small cubes.

1 Cup of Moroccan green olives or salad olives.

1/3 Cup of Goat Cheese. 1/4 Cup of freshly cut cilantro.

2 Roasted sweet red or green peppers. cut to one inch squares.

1/2 Moroccan preserved lemon skin washed and cut to small pieces.

2 sticks of fresh green onions cut to small pieces.

2 to 3 TBLsp of Argan Oil, olive oil or grape seed oil.

1 TBLsp of Zaatar herb blend.

1/2 teaspoon of paprika.

1/2 teaspoon of cumin.

1/4 teaspoon of coriander.

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.

1/4 teaspoon of salt.

1 teaspoon of vinigar.

Add more oils, lemons, olives or cheeses at your taste.

Mix everything in salad bowl. Decorate with flakes of fresh cilentro and slices of fresh lemon. This should serve 3 or more people.

trudy said...

Oops sorry, I didn't notice the goat cheese, you have to leave that out.

Nicole said...

Anonymous -- when you eat Ethiopian in a resturant (my favourite ethic food -- Oh, Gawd)
The Wat and whatever else you order -- usually in the form of a thick stew or mixed vegetables -- are served on top of a very large sheet of Injera -- you tear off pieces of the Injera and pinch the Wat between your fingers.

Where did you find Teff, Schmoo? just curious.

Jennifershmoo said...

They sell teff and teff flour at my local health food store. The tiny whole teff grains make a great savory-tasting porridge when mixed with amaranth.

Yes, the injera is homemade, and yes, the recipe (plus the recipes for alecha and wat) are in the cookbook! I tried half a dozen ways to make injera before creating a recipe I really love. The worst was all teff flour set out for days and days to ferment -- definitely an aquired taste on that one. This final version uses a mix of white and teff flour, salt, and yeast; it's easy to make and tastes fantastic. I wish it weren't all gone...

Preserved lemons, that sounds interesting!

To the two anonymouses -- I tried tofu egg salad a while back, but you're right, I haven't done "ants on a log" yet!

Anonymous said...

When will your cookbook be coming out Jennifer? Do you have a publisher already?

R2K said...

I would love to try Injera some time...

I was addicted to those fruit cups for a while there. And yes, the fancy kind that I used to eat cost 1 buck per cup! Yikes!

Now I only use "fresh, raw" fruit. The syrup and juices seemed counterproductive.

R2K

Anonymous said...

Your blog is great and it is making me look into other ethnic groups, I never would have thought of. Thanks Bunches!!

Danielle said...

Injera looks kinda freaky, but it's really neat. There are several Ethiopian places in DC, but my favorite is a 15-minute walk from my home.

Sonya said...

Hi danielle, from a fellow Washingtonian. We love Meskerem on 18th St. Which is your favorite? We've been going to Meskerem since I was a very very little girl, and I have always loved the big pillowy sheets of injera they serve under all the stews and sauces. Mmmm, lucky kid. Ethiopian is one cuisine I have not really ventured into at all, but I'm inspired to try after seeing today's lunch!

Amy said...

Oh wow, I'm so jealous of Little Schmoo today! I loove Ethiopian food and have been craving it so badly, but I'm visiting my family in Massachusetts (I live in NYC) and we don't have any Ethiopian places around here. My sister and I would do just about anything for some Ethiopian food right about now!

Looks like such a delicious lunch!

And congrats on your Bloggie!

Mari said...

Indian pickled lemons or limes are just about the most aggressive food in the world. I've never managed to finish a jar. They're one of those things that seem like a good idea when you buy them.

Still- worth trying once.

vanessa said...

mmm... ethiopian food. love it.

Ferocious Killer Kat said...

injeras r soooo yummy.. just like indian dosas :)

Claire said...

mmm...I love ethopian food!! My mum made it just last week :)

Anonymous said...

in response to the comment earlier about the absence of sugar making the veggies taste better... i gave up refined sugar a few years ago and was amazed at how much my taste buds change.. i appreciate the tastes of natural foods sooo much more now. carrots taste pretty sweet, they have become one of my favorite treats when i have a sweet tooth.

-Trish

Dilip said...

I love Ethiopian food, as well, and enjoy the Adams-Morgan eateries in Washington, D.C. Way to go making today's lunch box - I thought that you had purchased the injera from an Ethiopian restaurant, which I've considered doing while making the wats, alechas, etc. I really like injera; are you also familiar with dosa, a food I love? I also like Indian pickles, by the way; I teach vegan cooking and tonight offered my students Indian pickles which seemed to go over fine. What a great blog! --Dilip www.dilip.info dilip2006garden.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

just so everyone knows, I believe the site that someone attempted to post above was www.pakupaku.info , which is hands down one of my FAVORITE vegan sites on the net, it makes me really happy, and every recipe I have tried from it is perfection!
i definitly recomend!

Taleia said...

Jennifer (or other smart people), I wonder if I could ask a dumb question? A couple of years ago, when I went veggie for a year, I was using "The Teen's Guide To Going Vegetarian" for my bible, and it suggested the (then novel to me) concept of "chopped salads" - i.e. lettuce-less salads with lots of stuff you wouldn't normally stick in a salad - or at least, stuff my family wouldn't stick in a salad. :)Anyway, I tried some of their recipes but finally coined my own, which I've been making big batches of every couple days, and wolfing down whenever I am starving but have no time to actually make anything (or I'm so hungry that looking for something to eat might lead to eating something I'd regret later :)). My question is, actually how healthy are these salads I've been making?!? My dad and I were wondering yesterday, but we wouldn't come up with an answer. While the contents varies with what I have available, it goes something like this: a can of kidney beans, a can of navy beans (or pinto beans), a can of olives (usually black), a generous handful of raisins, a generous handful of nuts of some sort (the current mixture has slivered almonds), and whatever I veggies I have available - this one has a cucumber, two celery sticks, three carrots, and a handful of mushrooms. When we have cans of them, I love throwing in a chopped artichoke heart for a treat. I also like broccoli, apple, chickpeas, boiled potatoes, couscous, and rarely leftover rise. But normally it's just beans, nuts, raisins, and veggies. If it's fresh (24-48 hours) I eat it as-is, but after the crispness is worn off a bit, I might add either homemade italian dressing (oil, vinegar, herbs) or half and half some garlic and basil infused olive oil.
So... how healthy is this? I'd really hate to find out that this isn't helping me any in my quest to eat better... greens salads are good, but they don't keep the same way and arent' as quick to eat... Any thoughts?

Angela said...

Mmm, Ethiopian--my favorite!! For those of you out there asking about injera, it can also be made out of other flours (like plain old white wheat flour). It's not as authentic as with teff, and unfortunately it doesn't have as much of that sourdough flavor, but it's quick and easy. Jennifer, I once tried a 100% teff naturally fermented recipe and it was a total disaster! I couldn't get it to cook up at all.

I recently bought Exotic Ethiopian Cooking, and it's a great cookbook. I managed to make a whole Ethiopian feast for us on my first try! I did avoid any recipe involving berbere because I'm simply too lazy to make it myself (and the quantities in this cookbook would make me enough berbere to last years! You've got to love any recipe that calls for 5lb of garlic!) I made wheat injera, yekik alicha (mild split pea stew), yudubba alicha (mild pumpkin stew), teemateem (fresh tomato/pepper salad), yeqey sir qiqqil (boiled beets), and zelbo gomen (boiled kale). It was a terrific way to use up some CSA veggies. The teemateem was my favorite dish.

Re celery: I recommend the garden veggie tofutti, it's great on celery. And the latest Vegetarian Times has a terrific recipe for cheddar-beer spread that I veganized by substituting tofutti cream cheese and cheddar Cheezly. I'm not sure what American vegan cheese would be a good substitute, but we just loved the stuff on celery and breadsticks. I've been trying to come up with a good substitute for port wine cheese or the crock cheese my husband enjoyed at a pub in Colonial Williamsburg, and that's my best shot so far.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blog. I love reading about all these "normal" foods made vegan. As a 17-year-old vegan (only been at this for a year and a half), it's always a relief to find down to earth recipes that I can take to school. Thank you again!

Angela said...

One more thing--if Shmoo is getting desperate for sweets, you might try recipes from one of Christina Pirello's cookbooks. I like How To Cook Your Way to the Life You Want. It has what my grumpy self considers a lot of newage craziness in it, but you can't argue with the recipes. Somehow she combines the weirdest stuff to make fantastic food--like a pesto recipe that uses brown rice syrup, miso, and umeboshi plum vinegar. It's the best vegan pesto recipe I've ever had, but I would've never thought of those ingredients on my own!

You can find lots of recipes on her website.

Anonymous said...

Whereabouts in MA are you, Amy? There are definitely Ethiopian places available. If you're near the capital, try Addis Red Sea. Their seating leaves much to be desired, but the food is awesome.

Anonymous said...

Mari, the preserved lemons are used as a kind of spice added to foods, not meant to be eaten by themselves.

Angela, the http://store.zamourispices.com/spices.html site sells berbere.

colleen said...

Taleia - your chopped salad looks pretty sound nutritionally. The beans are a good source or protein. For variety, you might throw in some chopped leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, etc.). If you're afraid they won't keep as long, you can add them each time you serve up a bowl.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting that the traditional way to use teff is to naturally ferment it. Some people recommend similar processes for wheat, oats etc. to make them healthier, etc. It seems that here is another culture that figured out the value of natural fermentation of grains without waiting for modern science.Now all we have to do is get used to the stronger taste of cultured products.
Very attractive arrangement of the injera. My kids love anything rolled up.

Janet said...

Congratulations on your award. I voted for you. I'm not vegan, but my nephew is, and I started reading your blog so I could understand him better, and know more about what he can eat when he visits. You've really opened my eyes, it's not just raw veggies, is it? Sounds like lots of work, though my nephew says it gets easier when you've done it a while. Thanks for a great education!

Anonymous said...

tell shmoo that he should never touch his injera with his left hand as this is used for wiping oneself after a bowel movement and it is considered a great insult in Ethiopia. My husband has traveled there extensively and we have many Ethiopian friends. Husge meat based culture!!

EatPeacePlease said...

I LOVE INJERA. What a lunch!!!

Jennifershmoo said...

True, however Ethiopia also has a long tradition of "fasting" from meat & dairy throughout the year:

"Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians do not eat meat and diary products (i.e. egg, butter, milk, and cheese) on fasting days. According to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church belief, the faithful must abstain from eating meat and diary products to attain forgiveness of sins committed during the year...Vegetarian meals such as lentils, ground split peas, grains, fruit, varieties of vegetable stew accompanied by injera and/or bread are only eaten during fasting days."
(from http://www.ethiopiantreasures.toucansurf.com/pages/religion.htm)

When added up, the fasting days (all Wednesdays and Fridays and several other longer fasts) equal almost half the year.

Anonymous said...

Just another suggestion for lunches - Potato rosti!
It's pretty much grated potatos and a little onion fried and then served with sour cream..but boy is it good and filling!!

laura said...

A recent issue of Sunset Magazine had a recipe for injera that doesn't require teff - it calls for club soda and buckwheat flour.

It also calls for two eggs, which you'd have to bypass to make vegan.

But for those who can't find teff easily, this might be a good alternative. Apparently the club soda gives it that nice bubbly, fermented flavor/texture.

choirfiend said...

Ah, I grew up in an Eastern Orthodox church with some Ethiopian Orthodox members, and they would make injera for Coffee Hour--I miss it so much now! Ethiopian fasting food is great, though that little article of a clip is kinda wrong--fasting isn't seen as necessary for forgiveness of sins, but as a tool to aid in overcoming the passions.
I am used to injera tasting kinda sour; I suppose that is the fermenting? What does yours end up tasting like, if it's not fermented? I can't imagine it tasting tortilla like or anything--that stretchy sticky texture and tangy taste with lots of paprika is where it's at!

Anonymous said...

regarding hummus:

i have NEVER found a store-bought brand that i liked. they all taste gross, and have an unpleasant consistency. not to mention it's a rip-off to buy, when it only costs a fraction of the price to make at home.

if you decide to make it yourself, here's an important tip: only use fresh lemon juice. the bottled stuff will ruin your hummus.

Anonymous said...

someone commented about wanting a substitute for crock cheese. you should check out jo stepaniak's "ultimate uncheese cookbook". you'll find a great recipe for crock cheeze, along with lots of other recipes for vegan cheezes, including sauces and fondues, spreads, cheezecakes, block cheezes, etc. this cookbook is a must for vegans who miss cheese!

Arline said...

"Is the wat under the injera... "

I am just amazed at the education we are getting here! Just can't imagine where else I would run into this question! Thanks!

Arline in L.A.

Jennifershmoo said...

>>Just can't imagine where else I would run into this question!

True! :-)

The wat is the mixed vegetable dish in the blue container, and the injera is the rolled up bites of bread.

Anonymous said...

I am SO impressed with your blog here! I've been attempting a Vegan diet for Lent and someone rec'd your site to me. I'm adding you to my favorites as you have a lot of great ideas. Who knew there were so many options?

Anonymous said...

Jennifer White has a good recipe for hummus in her cookbook In Good Health. I like it better than any hummus I have tried. Maybe because it doesn't have tahini and I don't really like tahini.

Anyway, the website is jenniferskitchen.com

There are also other good recipes on the site.

Yummy looking lunch today!! Thanks for the idea!

Anonymous said...

I hope nobody minds a little plug, but we have a vegan Ethiopian restaurant here in LA. http://www.rahelveggiecuisine.com

It's really tasty whether you're vegan or not and the service is excellent too. It's a great meal to share with others.

Nicole said...

anonymous, do you deliver to Southwestern Canada?

mmmmmmmmm

Anonymous said...

Nicole - Heh, heh, funny comment. I am actually not affiliated with the restaurant, I just loooooove to eat there!

Meghan said...

Hmm. This is not helping with the split pea soup craving I've been having lately. Must find a good recipe.

Anonymous said...

i am sure many have asked this but I dont actually have time to scroll up, where the HECK did you find a recipe for Injera??? I would *love* etheopian recipies!! We live in Florida where there is none to be found anywhere. If you have the time, would you email me (okterok @ yahoo dot com). Thanks!@!!!!

Vegan Knitting said...

We love Ethiopian but haven't made the time to make it ourselves. Luckily, there are quite a few places in the Bay Area to eat. When we lived in NYC, there were hardly any and we finally figured out that that is because there are hardly any Ethiopians in NYC.

SneakyScarves said...

Hi all. I did not get to read all 63 comments because I am pressed for time. I just wanted to mention a product here in the states that I have eaten and liked. (I am not paid or anything.) But there is a brand of beans and whatnot called HamBeens. Contrary to the title it has no ham. The site says in different wording that it is vegan. Their split pea soup is delicious! So easy to make, you just basically cut up some veggies and let it cook for an hour. Just a suggestion since I saw the split pea stew.
It has an authentic hammish flavour because of the spice packet. Enjoy!
P.S. It is cheap!

Catherine said...

Jennifer,

I really want to try making the injera and wat. I had something similar at an Ethiopian restaurant in Berkeley and it was very good (and different). Thanks for reminding me of this.

Anonymous said...

http://pakupaku.info/

for some vegan/international foods.

Sorry I typed it in wrong several days ago.

red said...

thank you








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