I’ve advanced to Round 2 of Project Food Blog. A big THANK YOU for all of your supportive comments, tweets, and of course for the votes…

For this challenge, the folks at Foodbuzz asked participants to cook a classic dish from another culture…something unfamiliar and outside of our comfort zone. This, my friends, is my kind of challenge.

If I had my education to do over again, I might choose to be a food historian. Or a nutritional anthropologist. I adore delving into research about what people around the world eat (and why).

So I pondered. And then pondered some more. What type of food have I never done on this blog? What type of food have I never cooked, period? And then it hit me. Ethiopian food.

I’ve only eaten Ethiopian food once, maybe twice. It was about 15 years ago, when I was a graduate student in Seattle. But I’ve never forgotten it. The spongy, sour flatbread and the array of spice-laden dishes were unlike anything I’ve tasted before or since.

Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in the world and it has a very rich food history (influenced by its distinct geography as well as its location on ancient spice trade routes between Asia and the Middle East). For this challenge, I made the classic sourdough injera with wot a traditional Ethiopian stew. I also made something called lab, an Ethiopian cheese spread customarily served with the other dishes.

About Injera

Injera is made from teff flour. Teff is a tiny seed that is native to the Ethiopian highlands: it has been cultivated there for thousands of years. Nutritionally-speaking, teff is high in protein, calcium and iron: it is also gluten-free. Injera appears at nearly every Ethiopian meal: it does double duty as both a serving and an eating utensil. Teff flour is fairly easy to find these days (marketed by Bob’s Red Mill). You should be able to purchase it at any natural foods store, or try online at iHerb.

Making injera is pretty simple. The only challenge here is that you use a sourdough method, so you need to plan ahead. I started my batch 6 days before making the injera. I used this recipe for inspiration, but because I wanted to keep the end product more authentic (and gluten-free), I didn’t add any self-rising flour (I used teff flour exclusively).

I also consulted Flatbreads & Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas, where I learned that injera is traditionally cooked on an ungreased clay pan that is 18 inches wide. I approximated the cooking surface by using a cast-iron skillet lightly greased with peanut oil.

Ingredients:

*3/4 cup lukewarm water, plus an additional 1 1/2 -2 1/2 cups
*1/2 cup teff flour, plus an additional 1-2 cups
*Pinch of active dry yeast
Peanut oil for cooking

Directions:

Day 1: Combine ingredients in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Allow to sit at room temperature for 48 hours.

Days 3, 4, and 5: Add an additional 1/2 cup water and 1/3 cup teff flour on each day. Stir well after each addition. Keep covered loosely during this time.

On Day 6: Add additional flour and water (about 1 cup of each) so that the mixture resembles crepe batter (a thinner version of pancake batter).

Heat pan until a bit of water dropped on the surface sizzles. Drizzle a little oil into the pan. Use a ladle to pour a very thin stream of batter in a circle in the pan, then tilt to fill in any empty spots.

As each injera cooks, you will see bubbles form on the top and the edges will darken…

…at this point, you should flip and allow the injera to finish cooking on the other side.

You should be able to make 5-6 injeras with this amount of batter. Spread your cooked injeras out onto a large platter and serve your wot on top, then break off pieces to eat with the stew.

About Wot

Most Ethiopian meals feature several differents wots served atop injera. Wots feature numerous spices and can be quite fiery (though there’s a mild stew called allecha in the Ethiopian repertoire, as well). Wot may contain meat, and it’s typically chicken, beef, lamb, or goat: pork is generally forbidden for religious reasons. Because most Ethiopians are either Muslim or Orthodox Christian and observe numerous fasting days when it is prohibited to eat meat, vegetarian wots are also very common. Sometimes vegetarian wots are prepared with lentils or chickpeas; they may also be made with hard boiled eggs.

It is worth noting that there is a community of Ethiopian Jews, most of whom now reside in Israel, who adhere to Kosher dietary laws and frequently eat vegetarian meals: it is their style of wot which I chose to make.

My wot featured all seasonal and locally grown ingredients.

Please note that wots are meant to be spicy; omit one or both of the jalapenos if you’d like a milder dish.

Recipe for Vegetarian Wot

Ingredients:

*2 large white onions, peeled and chopped (about 2 1/2 cups
*2 shallots, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
*1/2 cup peanut oil
*6 cloves garlic, minced
*1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
*1/2 teaspoon paprika
*1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
*1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
*1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
*1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
*1 large carrot, thinly sliced
*1 tablespoon tomato paste
*1 cup plus another 1/2-1 cup water
*1 1/2 cups diced summer squash (I used pattypan)
*1/2 small head of cabbage, cored and sliced
*8 very small potatoes, cubed
*1-2 small green chiles (I used jalapenos)
*8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
*1 teaspoon ground tumeric
*2 teaspoons course sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
5-6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and pierced 1/2 inch deep all over with a toothpick

Directions:

1. Over low-medium heat, cook the onions and shallots in a large dry saucepan. Stir frequently until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Turn the heat up to medium, and add the peanut oil. Add the garlic, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, caraway seeds and coriander and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the carrots and cook for another minute.

3. Add the tomato paste and 1 cup of the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid has thickened, 5-8 minutes.

4. Add the squash, cabbage, potatoes, chiles, green beans, tumeric, and the other 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the vegetables are tender and cooked through.

5. Add the eggs to the stew and stir gently so that everything is combined. Serve warm, with the injera.

Serve the wot spooned over the spread-out injeras (I cut the eggs in half to make eating them a little easier) and feel free to garnish with some chopped herbs (I used fresh basil and mint).

To temper the spices in the wot, you can top with a little yogurt or Ethiopian cheese spread (lab), if you like. To make the lab, I turned once again to Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World. I adapted a recipe from the book and mixed 1 cup goat cheese with 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest, a pinch of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon each of fresh minced mint and basil, and a pinch of course sea salt and fresh pepper. It’s delicious, and perfect served with the wot.

This was a wonderful meal, and a really fun post to put together. Thanks for the challenge Foodbuzz!

If you’d like to vote for my blog to advance to the next round of this challenge, you can do so here!

 

75 Comments

  1. 1

    herkelese — September 26, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

    Your recipe sounds great! I have been buying my teff from an Ethiopian bakery in Columbus. The shopkeep invited me into the kitchen to see how they make their injera. They used flat electric non-stick pizza skillets with a domed lid. The gentleman said to get the flat surface as hot as possible and was emphatic that I should not flip the injera. They would cook the injera until it bubbled on top (keeping it covered but only peeking at it) and then place it on straw mats to finish cooking with residual heat.

    I’m curious – what kind of yeast did you use? Mine is never as sourdoughey as the ones they make at the Ethiopian bakery….

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:00 am

      Thanks for the tip about not flipping- the batter would have to be super thin, I think, for that to work, right? Nice to hear how “the pros” do it! I used just a pinch of standard dry yeast- it was pretty sour after the 5-6 days fermentation period…

  2. 2

    Kathy Gori — September 26, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

    This looks absolutely divine!!! I just love what you did, the use of all seasonal and local ingredients and that amazing bread. Beautifully done, artfully presented!!! Good luck in Round 2.

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:00 am

      Thank you so much Kathy!

  3. 3

    Janis Tester — September 26, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

    I make injera every week for my ethiopian babies that live next door. I have a starter that has been going for over a year. I got 30lbs of teff from Ethiopia (neighbor got it for me). I love making it!

    Great job and nice post.

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:01 am

      Janis- wow! that’s really cool you’ve been making it for so long. I regret I didn’t keep any of the starter so have to start over next time…Do you use only teff flour or do you add another flour to yours?

  4. 4

    Jenn — September 26, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

    What an awesome cuisine I have always wanted to learn more about! I have 2 huge boxes of teff flour in my pantry and have been wondering what to do with it, I think I will have to make your injera and wot renditions!! Everything looks beautiful! Good luck in Round 2!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:02 am

      Jenn- do give it a try…I loved it and will definitely make it again. Thanks for the well wishes!

  5. 5

    Monet — September 26, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

    What an amazing meal. One of my close friends during high school came from Ethiopia, but I was never able to sample the cuisine. This was such a wonderful entry into the challenge. You tackled something I would have been too intimidated to do. Thank you for sharing…now I want to make my own injera and wot!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:03 am

      Thanks Monet! It’s not at all a difficult meal to make- the only difficulty is accumulating all the spices for the wot…do give it a try!

  6. 6

    Jennifer and Jaclyn @ sketch-free vegan — September 26, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    Those flatbreads look so cool! I’m def going to try those.

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:03 am

      They are fun to make, and really tasty!

  7. 7

    drbabs — September 26, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

    How great–Winnie, you rock!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:03 am

      THANKS!

  8. 8

    Yaelian — September 26, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

    That look so good! I have some Ethiopian friends here in Israel,and got to taste injera at their place :-)

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:04 am

      Thanks! And lucky you!

  9. 9

    Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels — September 26, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

    What a delicious looking meal! I’ve heard of Injera but never knew how to make it, thank you so much for the recipe. I can’t wait to try it out. But I’ve never heard of Wot. It was really nice to learn about Ethiopian food from you. You did a fantastic job with the 2nd challenge. The food looks wonderful and your pictures are great! Good luck! :)

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:09 am

      Thank you so much Lindsay. I am so glad you like the post! Do try the wot- it’s delicious.

  10. 10

    Robin Vinge — September 26, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    I hope you keep advancing Winnie. These recipes look amazing!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:15 am

      Thanks Robin! I always appreciate your support so much ;)

  11. 11

    Amy — September 26, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

    You read my mind! Injera and a vegetarian dish was high in my list for this challenge, having had Ethiopian once at a restaurant. Grats on a great post. :)

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:15 am

      Thanks Amy!

  12. 12

    DJ Karma (VegSpinz) — September 26, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

    Great job! I thought about Ethiopian- such an exotic cuisine that’s gaining a lot of popularity these days. Beautiful pics too! Good luck for challenge #3!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:16 am

      Thank you so much!

  13. 13

    Suzanne Collier — September 26, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

    You always put new wrinkles in my brain! Love the history lesson and the colors in this dish! You never cease to amaze me!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:16 am

      Thanks Suzanne- this was a really fun one to put together!

  14. 14

    Roxan — September 26, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

    Congrats on making it to the next round! this looks like a wonderful dish, I have no doubt you’ll make it through to the next one also. Thank you for all that information.

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:16 am

      Thanks Roxan…and you are very welcome.

  15. 15

    theveggie — September 26, 2010 @ 9:21 pm

    I applaud you. This sounds like such a great (& unique) meal to do for vegetarian and gluten free friends @ a dinner party. I can just imagine the interesting conversation it would inspire at the table. I recently tried Ethiopian food for the first time and the bread simply blew my mind. It’s like eating a sponge!! I love that you made this.

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:17 am

      Thanks! It really would be great for a party…I can’t wait to make it again.

  16. 16

    Maya — September 26, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

    Oh my goodness, I nearly made Injera for my 2nd challenge too, but I couldn’t find teff flour anywhere where I live! I went for a Botswanan dish instead, and I’m glad we didn’t have to compete on Injera because your version looks fabulous! Good luck for future challenges!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:17 am

      I can’t wait to check out your Botswanian food! Thanks for the sweet comment and good luck to you, too ;)

  17. 17

    Baking Barrister — September 26, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

    I have a question that maybe you can answer from your research. Whenever I get injera, it is a very very light white color with a slight grey tint. It’s very sour though. Yours seems very dark. What color is teff flour? Do you know what (besides maybe a lil bit of self rising flour) restaurants are using to make it?

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:20 am

      Teff is light brown/gray…when cooked, my injera did get pretty dark brown. I have a feeling some restaurants use quite a bit of regular flour or self-rising flour mixed in, but I can’t say for sure since I haven’t been to an Ethiopian restaurant in so long!

  18. 18

    Rajani — September 27, 2010 @ 12:59 am

    looks so delicious! loved your post… you have my vote!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:21 am

      Thank you sooooooooo much!

  19. 19

    Cathy — September 27, 2010 @ 3:32 am

    Holy smokes, Winnie – when you take on a challenge you really go for it! What a great post – so informative. I can’t wait to try the wot. It looks like the kind of veggie stew we live on in the winter.

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:21 am

      Cathy,
      I really do love challenges like this ;)
      You will love the wot- it is so unbelievably flavorful!

  20. 20

    Diana@Spain in Iowa — September 27, 2010 @ 4:09 am

    Winnie, what a beautiful meal. This is a type of meal that I would enjoy. I’m going to go out and try to find some teff flour to make the injera. I’m particularly interested in the flavors of that flatbread. Well done Winnie! Sending you my best :D

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:22 am

      Thank you Diana! Hope you do try the injera- it has such an interesting flavor and texture and it’s so healthy, too…

  21. 21

    brii — September 27, 2010 @ 5:32 am

    first of all, congratulations!!

    I’ve made injera and wot for joan’s culinary tour around the world>/a<

    it was fun, thank's for the veg variant of the wot, my daughter will appriciate!
    baciusss
    brii

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:23 am

      Thanks Brii! I will make sure to check out your post, too!

  22. 22

    Noelle — September 27, 2010 @ 6:35 am

    I loved your post. I have not had Ethiopian food in 5 years. I need to make somesoon! GOod luck getting to the next round!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 6:50 am

      Thank you Noelle!

  23. 23

    Delishhh — September 27, 2010 @ 9:18 am

    This is awesome. I was thinking of doing ethiopian but then i decided Moroccan instead. Nice work. You got my vote!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

      Thanks so much! Moroccan sounds great…I’ll be sure to check out your post!

  24. 24

    Liz the Chef — September 27, 2010 @ 11:33 am

    Incredible post – you have my vote with a capital “V”. So inspiring!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

      Thanks so much Liz…your support always means so much to me ;)

  25. 25

    Weekend Herb Blogging #252 | Healthy Green Kitchen — September 27, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

    [...] for Project Food Blog challenge #2 is now open. I had a great time cooking and writing about Ethiopian food for the challenge. If you’d like to vote for my blog to advance to the next round, you can do [...]

  26. 26

    janet — September 27, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

    These are gorgeous photos…. I have never really wanted to try Ethiopian food, but your photos, alone, woo me!

    • Winnie replied: — September 27th, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

      You should try it…its’ delicious!

  27. 27

    Mariko — September 27, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

    Yum. I want to make that wot. I did doro wot and I can’t believe how flavorful Ethiopian food is! I love it.

    • Winnie replied: — September 30th, 2010 @ 11:35 am

      Thanks Mariko!

  28. 28

    Megan — September 27, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful photos. Good luck in the challenge!

    • Winnie replied: — September 30th, 2010 @ 11:36 am

      Thank Megan…and good luck to you, too!

  29. 29

    fooddreamer — September 27, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

    Looks great. I gave you vote!

    • Winnie replied: — September 30th, 2010 @ 11:36 am

      Thank you fooddreamer!

  30. 30

    Shannon — September 28, 2010 @ 10:27 am

    aah, i almost did this too :) i’ll have to save this post for when i try injera!! great entry, i voted for you!

    • Winnie replied: — September 30th, 2010 @ 11:36 am

      Thank you Shannon…do try the injera- it’s great!

  31. 31

    Simona — September 28, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

    Injera has been on my list of things to try for a while. I have the fondest memory of the first time I tasted it. Great job on the challenge! I voted for you :)

    • Winnie replied: — September 30th, 2010 @ 11:36 am

      Thank you Simona!

  32. 32

    Peggy — September 28, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

    This meal sounds absolutely perfect! Great job and good luck!

    • Winnie replied: — September 30th, 2010 @ 11:37 am

      Thank you so much Peggy…I really loved it.

  33. 33

    Correne Quigley-Faysal — September 29, 2010 @ 7:27 am

    What a great post!! So happy to see someone using and promoting teff on their blog. I LOVE it in pancakes, waffles, gingerbbread, and even cookies! My students are always intrigued by it after I teach a whole grains class. Your meal looks beautiful. Good luck!

    • Winnie replied: — September 30th, 2010 @ 11:37 am

      I have to spend some more time cooking with teff. I really like it:)

  34. 34

    Amanda (The Culinary Passport) — September 29, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

    I love Ethiopian. Great post!

    • Winnie replied: — September 30th, 2010 @ 11:37 am

      Thank you so much Amanda!

  35. 35

    Daily Spud — September 29, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

    Gorgeous and well worth a vote! I’ve only eaten Ethiopian food once or twice (and, yes, it was quite unlike anything else I had eaten). I’ve certainly never tried to make anything Ethiopian – though I have been wanting to try injera for a while. I’ll be sure to revisit this post when I do :)

    • Winnie replied: — September 30th, 2010 @ 11:38 am

      Thanks Daily Spud…I do hope you’ll visit again!

  36. 36

    Magda — October 1, 2010 @ 8:09 am

    I’ve never had Ethiopian cuisine but I really would love to try, it looks so delicious, definitely my kind of dish.

  37. 37

    Magda — October 1, 2010 @ 8:19 am

    I really want to make it, I mean wot because I want it now and can’t wait for the injera few days. Do you think I could substitute it with something else like crepes, tortilla or naan or any other flatbread?
    Also I’m going to skip cabbage, I love cabbage but my boyfriend doesn’t and I want him to try this too. The same thing with squash, I will have to use yellow zucchini instead because I know he won’t eat it with winter squash. Ah those picky eaters :/

  38. 38

    Project Food Blog Challenge #7: Video 411 | Healthy Green Kitchen — November 14, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

    [...] Ways, Barry Wine Style Challenge #4: Gluten-Free Hortopita Challenge #3: Fall-Inspired Dinner Party Challenge #2: Injera and Wot (A Traditional Ethiopian Meal) Challenge #1: Ready, Set, Blog! Bookmark/Share var addthis_config = { services_compact: [...]

  39. 39

    Rob Rasner Wikipedia — May 10, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

    Howdy We are very thrilled I found the webpage Project Food Blog Challenge #2: Injera and Wot (A Traditional Ethiopian Meal) | Healthy Green Kitchen My partner and I actually located u through accident, while We was browsing within Yahoo regarding another thing, Regardless I am here now and We would just love to tell you thanks a lot for the remarkable write-up and a complete exciting web log BTW have you read Bahrain notable news flash Enjoy your day … Rob Rasner Wikipedia

  40. 40

    injera. « — August 31, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

    [...] i’ve found a million recipes and such that provide different ways of creating this food, but this is the one i’ll be using to guide me in my attempt.  and you can be sure that when i get all [...]

  41. 41

    George Roche — February 6, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

    Great article! I want to mention that we just kicked off a funding campaign for our company – Small Small (buysmallsmall.com) – which is focused on bringing delicious Ethiopian spices and sauces to the US and sharing a portion of every sale to NGOs teaching modern ag in the source region. We’re starting with berbere and a sauce inspired by awaze: http://bit.ly/WSXk5W. Thanks for your consideration!

    -George (george@buysmallsmall.com)