In this version, buckwheat flour and club soda mimic the crumpetlike texture of real injera (see "Ethiopian Cooking 101," below). Prep and Cook Time: 40 minutes. Notes: If you can't find buckwheat flour, substitute all-purpose flour; add an extra 1/2-cup of club soda and another 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
Sunset MARCH 2006
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs and club soda and whisk until batter is smooth. It should have the consistency of pancake batter; add more club soda if needed.
2. Spray a 10-inch nonstick frying pan lightly with cooking oil spray and set over medium heat. When hot, pour 1/3 cup batter into the pan, tilting to coat most of the bottom. Cook until flatbread appears bubbly and dry on top, 2 to 3 minutes; do not turn.
3. Slide bread onto a serving platter. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep warm in a 200° oven while you cook remaining breads.
4. Place one injera flat on each of six dinner plates and top with stew. Serve with remaining injera to scoop up the food.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
Ethiopian cooking 101:
Berbere: This heady spice mixture is the basis for all Ethiopian cooking. It can feature clove, cayenne, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon, among other spices. Ground fenugreek seeds, which add a mildly sweet flavor, are also typical. Buy them at Middle Eastern markets or from Penzeys Spices ($1.09 per 1/4-cup jar; www.penzeys.com).
Injera: Authentic injera is made from fermented teff, a grain common in Ethiopia. The bread's spongy, bubbly texture is similar to that of a pancake. If authenticity is your aim, you can buy teff flour from Abyssinian Market ($25 for 5 lb.; www.abyssinianmarket.com).
Tej: This Ethiopian honey wine is the traditional match for spicy stews, but few retailers in the United States carry authentic imported tej. You can buy a bottle at many Ethiopian restaurants, but an accessible alternative is off-dry Riesling, which pairs beautifully with the spicy beef stew. Our favorite: Spätlese Rieslings from Germany's Mosel region.
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