Monday, May 23, 2011

Doesn't everyone have teff flour in their closet?

I'm not sure, but I think this may mean I've officially gone off the deep end.

For several reasons that I can explain but don't fully understand, there is a 25 pound bag of Teff Flour in my under-the-stairs closet right now.

My attempt to explain the madness:

Teff flour is what they use to make injera, the Ethiopian sour spongy bread that is a main staple of most meals in Ethiopia. In fact there are no utensils used to eat traditional Ethiopian food, you pinch up bites of the meat and lentils with pieces of injera. We've eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant a few different times in the past year and our family (well, minus my 5 year old daughter) has really grown quite fond of it. And ever since we found out that the child we are adopting is a toddler rather than an infant, I've been determined to learn to make Ethiopian food. So, I was super excited to discover recently an Ethiopian grocery store just a few miles from our home, and we visited it over the weekend.

We got a cook book, some spices, each of our 3 kids picked out a small bag of Cheetos (random, I know! I'm assuming those are not Ethiopian but just something extra thrown in for American benefit!), and we should have just left it at that. But, no, they had the teff flour we'd heard is used to make injera and you can't find that flour in regular groceries. I flipped to the page in the recipe book for injera and saw the ingredients: "Teff flour, water, and yeast" and that was it! Considering I judge a recipe's difficulty by number of ingredients required, I was all, "I can do this. I can make injera from scratch. Let's buy the flour!" Nevermind that all they had was a TWENTY-FIVE POUND bag, I buy regular flour in huge sacks at Sams, the quantity did not scare me!

Until the cashier rang up the purchase! Let's just say the teff flour? Is a bit more expensive than the white flour at Sams!

And the best part of the whole story? The Ethiopian woman who was the cashier looked at me with an amused look on her face and said, "You make injera?" And I said proudly, "I'm going to try! Do you make it?" Totally expecting her to say "Yes" and give me cooking tips, but instead? She said, "No! It's too much work!"

So there we were hauling our super expensive 25 lb bag of teff flour out of the tiny Ethiopian grocery store while our 3 children ripped into their Cheetos with me wondering, "Why oh why didn't we just buy some of the ready-made injera they were selling!"

I blame the crazy dialog in my head that went like this, "When sweet little girl finally comes home from Ethiopia she may want some injera!" And my immediate next thought, "Then this mama's going to learn to make some injera!"

And the last bit of the crazy explained, it's in the closet because it won't fit in the pantry and I can't store it in our overstock pantry in the garage because all my large plastic containers are in use storing the white flour I bought in a huge bag at Sams and I'm afraid bugs would get to it if I don't have it stored in a tub!


  1. I totally understand the crazy! We have an Ethiopian market here (but I'm lucky & they sell already-made injera!). I went in & told the guy I wanted to cook Ethiopian food. Next thing I know, he's made a phone call and hands the phone to me! He called his wife! She walked me through how to make Doro Wat, then asked to speak to him again. I guess she told him my ingredient list 'cause he led me around the store grabbing what I needed! And guess what? It was GOOD!

    I can't wait to hear how it goes when you make your own injera!! My kids love it!! :)

  2. I have experimented with injera repeatedly in anticipation of my little one's arrival (its on the menu again for tomorrow night). I use a "western kitchen" recipe that is MUCH less labor intensive than the traditional method. I follow the recipe from Marcus Samuelson's cook book but you can find many versions of the recipe by googling soda water injera recipe or some other variation of that. And all three kiddos (10, 7, 5) LOVE the injera :)
    Oh and I blogged about our injera attemps here:

  3. Good luck with your teff flour. I want to hear how it goes! (before we try it ourselves) :)

  4. Have fun with the teff flour! I've had that flous as I have a son with Celiac {so he can't eat gluten} and it's fairly good.

    I'm laughing that the cashier told you "no" -- it makes the story even cuter. :)

  5. We took an Ethiopian cooking class last year and made meser wat - a red lentil dish. The Ethiopian woman who tought us told us that her grandmother was Haile Selassie's cook at one time - she was very proud of this. She was a very sweet woman and cried when we told her we were adopting from Ethiopia - thanking us and offering to cook for us when we brought our daughter home. Anyway, she also told us the injera we were eating was her second batch she made that day because the first did not come out right! I'm excited to hear how your injera-making goes before I go out and buy my own 25 lb sack :)

  6. I just gotta laugh because I had a similar experience. I had been into our African market 4 or 5 times looking for berbere spice. One day they finally had it in stock...but they only sold it in four pound bags! I may never run out of berbere!


I'd love to hear what you think!