Essen: Ethiopian Teff / Injera & Sega Wot


Essen: Ethiopian Teff / Injera & Sega Wot

This is the second The Blogazine & Essen collaborations with photographer Vittore Buzzi, whose travels have taken him to the very farthest corners of the globe in search of adventure, exotic food and beautiful imagery.

Teff is an a grain native to the Horn of Africa. Adaptable and resistant even to the most difficult territorial and climactic conditions, it is as important as it is mistreated. “Orphan” is the adjective with which it often comes accompanied, as it hasn’t received much investment interest as agricultural systems are modernised.

But despite a lack of drive towards possible intensive cultivation, teff has for centuries on end been the bedrock of the bread of Ethiopia: injera. This thanks to the crop’s incredible robustness – all its takes is a handful of seeds to plant an entire field! And this very bread is key to the celebrated dish zighini, a meat dish with rich sauces whose only rule is that it must be eaten without silverware.

Only in the past few years has the phenomenon of land grabbing taken hold in China and India – “I pay you for the land, I reap its fruits” – and teff has consequently experienced a huge surge. Nonetheless, this comes at the expense of Ethiopian agriculture, as foreign pockets are lined while the situation of those within the country only worsen.

Beyond its inimitable flavour (spongy and acidic), teff has one very important characteristic: it is entirely gluten-free. (Check out Essen’s very cool infographic on coeliac disease.)

In an unprecedented historic period, where one in every 100 people has a gluten allergy and half of all sufferers go undiagnosed, intensive teff production could have a positive effect on the diets of those who are forced to take gluten-free “vacations.”

A second, but certainly no less important consideration, is that teff production could help to reduce the plight of Ethiopia, a country burdened with an economic system that can only politely be described as inauspicious (read: a disaster).

So, while we consider these particular dynamics together – which remain thoroughly outside the conscience of most occidental consumers – we present to you a tasty Ethiopian recipe for dedicated to all the gluten-free of the world (and pretty delicious even for gluten eaters)!

Recipe: Sega Wot

This is a variation that can be prepared at home. Unfortunately, following the original recipe without local Ethiopian utensils is very difficult and doesn’t guarantee success. The modifications here will get you very close to the real thing, however, and it remains gluten-free! Feeds four.

1 packet beer yeast
120cl hot water
1/2cl honey
600 g finely ground teff flour
Baking soda
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
20 grammes butter
40 grammes berbere sauce
40 grammes of cubed pork
500 grammes peeled tomatoes

Injera Preparation

Dissolve the yeast in a mug of hot water. Wait 10 minutes until it starts to foam, and then add the remaining water and flour. Mix well and cover. Let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours. Mix the batter well and add a bit of baking soda.

Heat up a large nonstick pan at medium heat. Pour the batter into the pan forming a spiral in such a way that the bottom of the pan becomes completely covered by the batter. Cover and cook for a minute. The bread must not be toasted; it should only slightly increase in thickness Injera is normally only cooked on one side – its top must be moist and covered completely with tiny perforations (eyes). Let cool on a serving plate, and place the others on top as they are cooked.

Sega Wot Preparation

Sauté the chopped onion with the crushed garlic. After five minutes add 1 tablespoon of butter and 3 tablespoons of berbere sauce, 1 glass of water and a generous dash of salt. Reduce the mixture gently, then add the peeled tomatoes and as it cooks, add another glass of water. Continue to simmer for 15 minutes, then add the cubed pork. Let cook for an hour, or until the meat is cooked an the sauce is thick. Serve over the injera.

Reportage Vittore Buzzi – Text and Recipe Christina Zaga – Translation Tag Christof