Americanized Injera


I hate sharing. I hate bartering. I hate compromising.

I want goat cheese, spinach, olives and sun-dried tomatoes on my pizza. I do not care that you hate olives. I do not want to split a plate of anchovies and roasted red peppers. Anchovies make me convulse. I want all of my garlic shrimp. You order your own.  I think you know where I’m going with this.

When did these “small plates” become so fucking popular. I don’t want a bite of this or a bite of that. I want an entire fucking steak and I want to eat it all myself. Screw tapas and mezze or any other dish where you have to invoke cloture to place an order. Enough of this sharing shit.

But then there’s Ethiopian.

And for some reason—maybe it’s because all of the dishes seem fairly similar to our uncultured eyes—is the only restaurant scene where I don’t mind going with a bunch of people and sharing a large spread of saucy meats and legumes and veggies over injera.

I recently found injera at a mostly convenience, but one aisle of Ethiopian goods, store. Injera is a spongy, thin, bread-like utensil. It’s a utensil because at Ethiopian restaurants diners use the bread to scoop up bites of food; there are no forks or knives or spoons. It’s wickedly fun.

For those unfortunate enough not to have eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant, it kinda goes like this: large sheet of injera on a circular plate, clumps of lamb, beef, lentils, collards, tomatoes and an assortment of other items are placed on the injera, with each clump in its own little area; extra injera is placed on the side and when the extra injera runs out, grab the sauced up injera that has been sitting underneath the clumps to gather any of the leftover food, or eat the moistened injera on its own.  And to be clear (Matt), injera, in no way, tastes like t-shirts.

Injera is delicious and I cant wait to put it under a fried egg.

But for last night’s dinner, I refrained from the obligatory egg and thought up a few other clumps.


Injera with Inauthentic Clumps
Serves 2*

Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic
And in the shocker of the post, I actually followed an (anal) recipe.

Slow Cooked Onions and Peppers
Because moistening the injera is key, I wanted an onion dish that could pass for spreadable. Over super low heat I cooked down an onion for almost an hour. I added a bell pepper for the last 25 minutes. Of course there was oil, salt and pepper.

Broiled Eggplant
I cut an eggplant into disks, tossed it with oil, salt and pepper and broiled it for about 7 minutes.

Mashed Cannelloni with Fresh Oregano and Garlic
I dumped a can of cannelloni beans into hot oil, let the beans soften and slightly brown, added in garlic until just softened and then roughly mashed everything together with a touch more oil, salt, pepper and oregano. But only slightly mashed, making sure to keep some beans whole.

Arugula-Cream Cheese Sauce
If I haven’t mentioned it enough, injera loves sauce and because my clumps weren’t particularly saucy, I decided to whiz up a quick sauce. In the food processor: one clove garlic, a handful of arugula, half of a spicy chili (forget the name, but it was quite large and could be confused for a long, narrow red bell pepper), 2-3 spoonfuls cream cheese, salt, pepper, 2-3 dashes white wine vinegar and a swirl of oil. Blend until creamy, should be fairly thick.

I spread the sauce directly on the injera, creating a small circle in the middle, but leaving the outsides dry. Kinda like spreading pizza sauce. Then I added the clumps over the sauce, lined the space between the clumps with torn arugula and drizzled more sauce on top.

Eat with your injera-ed hands!

*With the leftover beans, eggplant, potatoes and onion mixture, I, of course, threw it into a cast iron, mixed an egg with the leftover cream cheese sauce, poured the egg over top and on the stove top made a quick fritatta for tomorrow’s lunch.

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  • Liza September 1, 2009  

    I am not into the small plates usually either – which is probably because I have an irrational fear of hunger! But it stresses me out when I’m really hungry and that’s what they have to offer! BUT Ethiopian – AMAZING! I’m so glad you were brave enough and bought ingera and tried this!

  • Adam September 1, 2009  

    I’m really not into small plates. I don’t mind sharing food if it’s a regular (or huge) portion, but tinny little plates of food – not my taste. I wonder if this idea started in the US with the popularity of tapas. I do like Ethiopian food but for one reason or another I’m really not a fan of injera. It’s the sour, fermented taste that I’m not a fan of.

  • OMGYeahYouKnowMe September 1, 2009  

    This is amazing. I love Ethiopian food but I have always thought it was too complex to even try to cook it myself. You’re my hero Gansie!

  • Nee Nee September 1, 2009  

    Small plates p!ss me off. It seems like they are 25% cheaper than an entree and 75% less food. The math never adds up.

  • C. Christy Concrete September 2, 2009  

    I’m with you on this one; Ethiopian food is the shit. It’s the true lunch of hidden royalty.

  • Maids September 2, 2009  

    This is awesome Gans (I mean seriously, ETHIOPIAN… why didn’t you invite me over to try some?), but back off of mezze. It’s not always in small portions. In Turkey you can get your own mezze plate and, although it’s supposedly an appetizer, it’s enough to spoil you for dinner.

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