A Healthy African-Inspired Breakfast
In Uganda last month, my group was treated to beautiful tropical fruits, in the form of juices—a tart orange juice, a sweet passion fruit cocktail-- and also fresh fruits, such as mango, pineapple, and their wonderful mini varieties of bananas. We also often had a soft bread, rolled-up that was referred to as “Rollex” to us, but in actuality is a crepe-like bread from north African, called Injera Bread.
Traditional Injera Bread is made from millet flour or “Teff” which is allowed to ferment for 24 hours in the batter. Natural yeasts allow the fermentation of natural sugars in the flour, which will produce tiny bubbles in the batter and give it a spongy texture. The batter is thin and, when spooned into a saute pan or grill surface, spreads like a crepe. The bread is then rolled up OR placed open on a plate and other foods placed on it, then scooped up and eaten. The basic recipe for Injera Bread is 1 part Teff flour to 1 part water. No additional sugars or flavorings or spices are used..
Below is a picture of a recent breakfast I made at home in the United States I've taken the concept of Injera Bread, but modified the recipe to use ingredients I had available. The “mini” bananas I found at a local market, and the yogurt is plain yogurt (certainly common and readily available in northern Africa) with a drizzle of honey, a commodity also found readily throughout Africa. I could have drizzled mango puree over the yogurt!
My Version or Adaptation of Injera Bread is as follows, note that I avoid fermenting the batter, instead using seltzer water or club soda to provide the little “bubbles”. And you must add additional seltzer or club soda to thin the batter, depending upon the flour you are using—in order to create a thin, crepe-like batter, or it won't spread. You want a spongy crepe, but not a pancake!
Injera Bread (without the fermentation step)
Stir together (or whisk lightly) 1 part flour with 1 part club soda or seltzer water.
You may use all-purpose flour, OR use a pre-made gluten free baking blend , OR create your own gluten-free flour with rice and oat flours.
Add additional seltzer or club soda until the consistency is like a crepe batter.
Set batter aside while you heat about 2-3 tsp oil to coat the bottom of a frying pan or crepe pan
Heat the oil over a medium-high heat until water sprinkled on it immediately fizzles (like you test a skillet for making pancakes)
Make 1 Injera Bread at a time in the pan, turning once.
Remove to a plate and roll while warm, the bread should have the consistency of a spongy crepe, a little thicker, but less than a pancake. It should not rise more than about 1/8 inch or so. (look again at the rolled up bread in the above picture, you can see the little bubble holes)
I also have to work on making this bread perfectly round without the squiggly edges--this batter may have been slightly too thin or I wiggled the pan too much in trying to get it spread out. In any case, better thinner than a pancake. And a good excuse to keep working at it!