Mama Chameleon

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kenya Safari No. 6:
The world's best cuisine: Injera But Wat

Without fail, whenever someone discovers that the world's best cuisine is from Ethiopia, they're response is
"Huh? But isn't there millions of starving people over there? I thought their national food was rice!"
I can't explain that. And if I culd, I still wouldn't be able to explain it eloquently.
It is just something I know to be a fact. I have eaten injera bu wat in a classy international hotel in Ethiopia, and I have eaten it in the slums both in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Why am I putting this in a Kenya safari? Well, a lot of Ethiopian refugees live in the poor areas in Nairobi. We lived there for a time as well, and boy did we grow to love their food!

What is injera bu wat?
It is the national dish of Ethipia .
Injera is a huge spongy pancake Because the batter is left to ferment slightly the injera has a sour-dougy taste, that is even more pronounced if traditional tef flour is used.

Traditionally injera is cooked outside over a fire.......

But most of the people I know, who make it a lot, use large electric skillets.

The wat is what you put on the injera; a vast array of delectable stews.

How is injera eaten?

With your fingers! Duh! =) But only with the fingers of your right hand. Using your left hand is offensive because it is the hand you use in the toilet. Sit on it if you think you will forget.

And injera bu wat is a social meal, as in, you share the tray or basket with the rest of your table. Think you can handle that?

Serving it up

Injera bu wot is traditionally seved in an injera basket with a lid

Though we usually ate ours in places where it was served on a big tin tray..... like so.

Either way, toss the lid aside. You will see an injera (or maybe a couple) with a variety of stews spread over it. There should have been small rolls of injera or a plate of whole injeras brought out with your meal, so now tear off some injera and use it to pick up some stew. Tilt your head up a bit, open wide and pop the whole lot in.

Oops, wait! Did I explain that the various wats (stews) are like bugs. The brighter red the wat, the more dangerous it is. Several of the wats are made with berbere ( a blend of spices including red chilli, garlic and salt)

Yellow wat is mild, but if you are eating a red wat, have a banana close by. Drinking water only spreads the heat down your tender throat, but the banana absorbs it.

As youngsters, our Mom would cook a mild mince dish for us to eat with our injera, but then as our tastes expanded we really enjoyed sampling the different wats. The most unusual one I ever ate had tiny morsels of cow's stomach in a creamy base. I did not know what it was when I tried it, but it was so yummy I couldn't get grossed out. Sadly I have never come across it again.

If you are interested in concocting this amazing cuisine yourself, try out these recipes .

Or if you want the real thing in comfort, search for a
restaurant near you. And please report back whether you liked it or no.

Posted by michelle :: 7:35 pm :: 9 comments links to this post

Post a Comment