Ethiopian Injera Qey Misir Wot Recipe

When considering what recipe to share with you from Ethiopia, there was really no question – it had to be the Injera Qey Misir Wot recipe.

Injera is a soft, pancake-like sourdough bread which constitutes plate, cutlery and carbohydrate all in one, and is present in almost every Ethiopian meal. Typically, injera is served with dollops of different sauces, or wots, on top, flavoured with different spices and berbere (a vital spice mix in Ethiopian cooking for thousands of years). Qey misir wot (or red lentil sauce) is a simple but flavourful lentil stew that has become a great favourite.

Injera Qey Misir Wot Recipe
A typical Ethiopian plate. This is 100% vegetarian, commonplace in a country where Orthodox Christians (the dominant religious group) fast from meat and dairy products every Wednesday and Friday, and for the whole period of Lent.

Now for the disclaimer: Making Injera is not for the 15-minute meal, fast food cooks. This needs to be planned ahead by days, not hours and may involve a hunt around for the necessary ingredients. But, the result is delicious, well worth the effort and quintessentially Ethiopian!

A little note about the more unusual ingredients for the Injera Qey Misir Wot Recipe:

Teff is the world’s smallest grain, and is a hardy plant that grows endemically in Ethiopia. It is naturally gluten free, and rich in iron, calcium and potassium (amongst other essential minerals).

Injera Qey Misir Wot Recipe
A field of teff growing in the Southern mountains of Ethiopia. It is a low growing grass with tiny seeds, which are so small that it doesn’t fall prey to insect attacks like wheat or barley, allowing it to be stored safely for much longer periods.

Berbere is a spice mix that consists of anywhere between 12 – 15 spices. Every family has a slightly different combination, but some common components are chilli pepper, cloves, cumin, onion, garlic, fenugreek, cardamom, peppercorns, coriander, ginger, allspice and salt.

Black spice is used in almost all the ‘red’ dishes in Ethiopia and consists of ginger, garlic, cardamom and black cumin.

So, without further ado…

Injera Qey Misir Wot Recipe: Step One – Injera

Injera Qey Misir Wot Recipe
Freshly cooked injera, stored in the traditional woven basket made for this purpose. The lid looks like an inverted funnel.

Injera Ingredients
serves 6

2 cups of teff flour
3 cups of water


Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the teff flour and water until fully combined.
  2. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a cheesecloth, and leave to stand at room temperature for 3 days (yes, that long!). The batter will start to ferment during this time, which is what gives the injera its unique flavour. Expect to see bubbles appearing in the batter, and water separating and sitting on the top.
  3. When the 3 days is up, carefully pour the water off the top of the batter and give it a good stir.
  4. Boil 1 cup of water in a pan and add ½ cup of the batter. Whisk together and heat until it has formed a thick paste (this won’t take long).
  5. Stir the paste back into the rest of the batter and whisk in enough warm water to give the consistency of a thick pancake batter.
  6. Now for the cooking! Traditionally injera is cooked on a large (approx. 50cm diameter) hot plate called a mit’ad, but a big shallow frying pan with a lid will do the job. Heat the pan until a few drops of water rapidly spread and roll across the surface, and only add a tiny spray of oil if absolutely necessary. Using a jug or cup measure, pour the batter into the pan in a spiral, starting on the outside and working in. When holes start to appear on the surface, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and allow to steam for a minute to cook through.
Injera Qey Misir Wot Recipe
The bubbly injera surface.
  1. Transfer cooked injera to a plate, and repeat step 6 until the batter is finished – but only stack them once cool or they will stick together!
  2. Serve topped with qey misir wot (recipe below) and any combination of fried vegetables or meat stews you like. Injera will stay fresh for 3 days if wrapped in plastic or kept in an airtight container.

 

Injera Qey Misir Wot Recipe: Step two – Qey Misir Wot (Red lentil sauce)

Injera Qey Misir Wot Recipe
The qey misir wot on the stove, ready to serve.

Qey Misir Wot Ingredients
Serves 6

400g red lentils
3 tbsp onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp black spice
2 tbsp berbere spice
500g tinned tomatoes/passata


Method

  1. Rinse the lentils in a sieve and cook until tender, according to package instructions.
  2. In another pan, fry the onions with a little oil until translucent and add the spices. Sauté for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked lentils and simmer for a further 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt to taste, and serve atop your freshly made injera. Your Injera Qey Misir Wot is ready to become your new favourite recipe.
Injera Qey Misir Wot Recipe
The injera and qey misir wot ready to eat! Using your right hand, rip off a piece of the injera and use it to scoop up the wot like a spoon.

If you want to take your Ethiopian experience one step further, you can cook together tomatoes, lemon juice, onion, garlic and chilli and stir in your injera remnants for the delicious firfir – Ethiopian leftovers. I also encourage you to try and find a local Ethiopian restaurant for the full culinary experience. Be sure to say yes to the coffee ceremony afterwards!

Ruth Hepburn

Ruth Hepburn

Ruth is a British fashion designer living in Canada specialised in woven cloth structures and how to create texture, pattern, and strength in fabric. She’s the winner of the ABURY Design Experience 2017 and is spending six weeks with the crafts community Sabahar in Ethiopia to design the new ABURY collection.

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