Derbyshire’s Answer to…Injera?
Any Ethiopian would spot this a mile off as injera, the spongy flatbread that accompanies every hot and spicy meal. Anyone from Derbyshire or Staffordshire will know it as a breakfast staple - oatcakes. Rather embarrassingly, as a London-based gastronaut, I am more familiar with the former. Whilst on a walking holiday in my campervan over Easter - in The Peak District, not Addis Ababa - I came across Derbyshire oatcakes for the first time.
I bought these at Lomas Foods in Buxton, a really fab shop with lots of cheap eats as well as cleaning products etc - a rather odd mixture of stock, but truly credit-crunchtastic! I asked the shop assistant how they are traditionally served, and she said, “Well, duck,” (everybody in Derbyshire calls you duck) “you’ll have them with sausage, egg and bacon. Or with melted cheese.” Yum!
Upon sampling, I was immediately struck by their similarity to injera. They are somewhat thicker, but do have a slightly tangy flavour from the yeasty batter. They make fab trail snacks, rolled up with butter and jam, as seen here in situ in the campervan.
We had them with breakfast, with cheese, wrapped around sausages - I reckon they’d be great with just about anything. Especially a spicy Ethiopian curry or “w’at”.
Here’s a little more about injera and a recipe, from my book “World Vegetarian Classics”, just republished in paperback.
Injera / Ethiopian Sourdough Flatbread
Injera is absolutely essential with every Ethiopian spread, and its sour flavour marries perfectly with the spicy stews. In Ethiopia it is made with teff, the world’s tiniest grain, which thrives in the mountains there. I’ve made the recipe more accessible by using wheat flour and it takes about 2 minutes to make—but there the shortcuts stop. You must then wait three days, while it develops a wonderful sourdough flavour and a light and springy texture. A little forward planning is all that’s necessary for this very authentic replica. You will need a large, reliable non-stick pan for cooking these; if you find they are sticking, you may need to add a very light slick of oil to your pan before adding the batter.
300g / 2 1/3 cups strong white bread flour
100g / 2/3 cup wholemeal self-rising flour
1 package easy-blend yeast (7g)
625 ml / 2 ½ cups warm water
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp. salt
Select a large ceramic, glass or plastic bowl which will allow the batter enough room to rise. Combine the flours and yeast in the bowl. Stir in the warm water and mix to a fairly thin, smooth batter. Cover with a clean damp cloth and let the mixture sit for a full 3 days at room temperature, stirring once a day-it will bubble and rise.
When ready to cook the injera, stir the bicarb and salt into the mixture and let stand for 15 minutes.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a moderate flame, until a drop of water bounces on the surface. Use a ½ cup / 125ml measure (or about 2/3 teacup) to scoop the batter and pour into the hot pan, swirling quickly to coat the surface from the centre outwards—lots of little holes will form immediately. Cook until the surface of the pancake is dry; do not flip or allow to brown underneath—it should be soft and pliable. Remove to a warm plate and cook the remaining injera. Makes about 8-10, serves 4-6
Fitfit is a common snack or breakfast food—a delicious and clever way of using leftover injera:
For Temateem Fitfit or Injera Salad (not far off the Italian Panzanella or Lebanese Fattoush), mix 1-2 injera, torn into small pieces, with chopped fresh tomato, chopped onion, chopped green chilli, a little salt and lemon juice.
For Yesalit Fitfit, toast a few tablespoons of sesame seeds in a dry pan. Cool and crush to a paste, then mix with injera torn into small pieces, and a little salt.