Monday, June 27, 2011

Injera and Wot

A long time ago, I was in a great bookclub. But everyone lived a good 45 minutes away and after awhile it became a lot to drive that every month, so I left. I tried to start my own and it didn't really take off; then a new friend on facebook tagged me in a note about her bookclub and I invited myself to join.

The book for last month was Cutting for Stone. As I read along, occasionally the characters mentioned eating injera and wot.

I let my fingers do the walking* to a google search and found out injera is Ethiopian flatbread and wot is stew. Fantastic, I thought, I'll make some and take it to bookclub. No biggie.

First, I had to assemble some items I didn't posses. I put out on facebook that I needed a mortar and pestle to borrow. My neighbor came through. Then Elizabeth, my Zumba instructor, had the spices I needed (coriander, cardamom, and turmeric) plus a coffee grinder she used for spices. I skipped the whole fenugreek thing. This was getting really out of control already.

For the injera, I needed teff, a grain indigenous to Ethiopia. Fortunately on my searches around the web, someone had posted a picture of Bob's Red Mill teff, so I thought my chances of finding it at the grocery store were pretty good. I picked up this whole grain teff and had to grind it . . .

which made a big mess.

Then I mixed up the injera.

This had to ferment for 1 - 3 days. So far so good.

I toasted and ground the spices.

I also made some niter kebbeh, a spiced butter for the wot. I could have just used butter, but I had all the spices already (except the cinnamon stick that I had to run over to my neighbor's for), so I went for it.

Craig came home at this point and requested I not make any more ethnic food. It was a little fragrant.

This is the niter kebbeh after simmering.

And at this point, I stopped taking pictures.

I mixed up some bebere, too. The recipes I researched (I checked out a couple, that's one) said I could use a mix of paprika and red pepper but that option felt less authentic and also didn't involve borrowing spices from my Zumba instructor (who is now affectionately referred to as "the spice girl" for my husband's clarification [sorry, E]).

The Friday of the book club, I put the doro wot in the crock pot and that afternoon cooked the injera. Once I started cooking the injera, it smelled so bad I almost puked. It was awful. The method was kind of a cross between a pancake and crepe; the smell was somewhere between rancid rubber and decaying flesh. The wot smelled "different" but not gross.

I took it all to the bookclub meeting anyway and told them how gross the bread was and how I didn't think I could eat it (I couldn't; I got it in my mouth and spit it out). Two of the women ate it and thought it was fine. The rest thought it was awful, even dipped in the wot. Everyone agreed with wot was fine, even good.

As for the book, I loved it. I thought it was exceptionally well-written and beautiful, a fantastic examination of family, brothers, fathers, life, and love. I also learned a lot, looking up Ethiopian food, Disclaced Carmelite nuns, Shiva, and St. Theresa.

I had a lot of fun with this process but I'm not sure I'll be so excessively ambitious next month.

*when is the last time you heard that phrase?


  1. wow, that was ambitious! good for you for trying. I read books often than ingnite a new found interest in other cultures and foods. It is fun to learn and experience new things, right?
    I am so impressed at how many new things you tried.

  2. I am so impressed. I bet if you hadn't said it was gross the women would have liked it. They just went with your impression. :)