Friday, March 5, 2010

Injera -- Our new Comfort Food--Go and Get you Some!--Or Let us Bring it to You :)

Oh, YUMMMY!! This is our new comfort food. We have learned to make Ethiopian food since coming back home with Ava and Bruik--but it is only completed eaten with savory/tart/pancake-like injera bread. Injera is made of Teff flour and water and has an incredible amount of nutrition in it. This may be why my children arrived so healthy from Ethiopia--this was such a staple in thier lives in Ethiopia--almost 3 years later they have the strongest immune systems in the house...
We have found an authentic source for Injera right here in the Nashville area.
It is call the International Food Mart. This is an international grocery store that sells items from all over the world. The two men who work there, Hamid and Zabih, are friendly and kind and very helpful in answering any question. You can find many things for cooking Amharic food there. We like going often for they have freshly made bread on racks up in the front. Injera is about 4 dollars for about 8 large pancakes--we never make it home without diving into the bag to tear off a strip. They also have split yellow dried peas, dried red lentil (YUM!!) --our fav!!--and the ever needed Amharic staple--Berberie spice. Their spice combo is just right and when you put about 2 Tablespoons (add up to a 1/4 of a cup to taste--be careful though it is very spicy and you can always add more later but will not be able to bring the spice level back down if it gets too hot) in a saute of about a cup or two (yes, lots) of olive oil, with about 4-6 sliced onions, then let the onions turn clear and saute for about ten minutes, then add chicken drumsticks and about 2 teaspoons of salt and let it simmer covered for about an hour or until it falls off the bone(hours longer)--you are WELL on your way to enjoying Dora Wat (a favorite chicken dish).

There are other spices that can make this even more authentic that we add but this is for another post. :) You can also add more berberie for those with palates that can take more hot spice--especially those coming in country from Ethiopia--this would be comfort food for them. We kept a shaker of Berberie on the counter --in a metal spice shaker/salt shaker thing --and the children felt comfortable knowing they could ask for this at any time to make their food feel more familiar.

Serve all of this food over a "plate" of Injera (on top of your regular plate)--tear off pieces of Injera to scoop/pinch up the food to eat it-kids love it--no forks!!Lots of napkins!!--BUT in country the people so neatly and graciously eat this--no napkins are even needed!--

We like to serve all the mentioned foods together--placed in a colorful array--like a clock--around the plate--it is so beautiful--especially when you place a hard-boiled peeled egg in the center of each plate and drizzle sauce from the meal over it.

Thanks to Tracy for the photo from their first trip to Ethiopia to bring home Levi!!

We serve this meal with Canned (yes, we cheat) collard greens cooked in a savory sauce. and a fresh green salad with the closest dressing we can come up with--a mix of lime juice and olive oil, black pepper and salt-- with goat cheese crumbles or feta cheese crumbles on the side --yummy fresh with this meal.

To make yellow split peas saute 1 onion, 1/4 olive oil, and about 1-2 teaspoons to taste of turmeric, a shake of garlic powder and salt to tast and lots of water (saute those onions first in the oil in the bottom of a Soup-sized pot with and spice -- then add about a pound of the split peas --then fill up the pot--half up with water bring to a boil then reduce to a medium heat --close to a simmer until the peas absorb the water and turn very soft--they take about 2 hours to get just right--try not to burn on the bottom--you may need to keep adding water by the 1/2 cup full--they absorb alot of water as they cook.
To suite our American tastes I added dried basil to our pot last week and it made it very savory.

The red lentils are delicious when you first saute about 2-3 onions in lots of olive oil--1/2 cup-to a whole with about 2 Teaspoons of Berberie (or less to taste) the sauteing really infuses the spice into your oil. Then add about 2 teaspoons of salt and add water so that your lentils are covered by about 3 inches of water--this cook to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and simmer until the lentils are mushy--Keep adding water by the 1/2 cup to full cup if your lentils look too dry or are not getting mushy--this will take about an hour--until they would be easily mashed. We take them at this point and put them through the blender or a food processor--this dish is SO savory and ends up being our favorite with injera bread.

Sorry that these are not in receipe form but I am repeating how I learned to cook Amharic by "word of mouth" just like I learned it from a lovely young Ethiopian Mother, a wife of an Ethiopian Market Owner, who owns the A&H Merkato Ethiopian grocery store on Murfreesboro Pike in Nashville, who was in the international market one day and poured out her kind advice for cooking to a very clueless me. She also told me that the "secret" to these dishes is cooking the spices in the oil in the beginning for an infusion of taste. She said that to be absolutely authentic, she would add to each of these dishes about a Tablespoon or two of Ethiopian butter --it has special spices infused in it(sometimes found at the International Market--always found at the market in Nashville, near the airport called , The Merkato, that carries ONLY Ethiopian food.-- And at the very end she would sprinkle something called 7(sorry detail people out there--the number could have been 5) spice --its a tan/green color just a pinch and a sprinkle at the end of a dish deepens the flavor noticeably and brings it to Amharic levels :). The Merkato is further out for me to travel to but only ten minutes more than the International Market and also carries injera bread.

This friend of mine also shared that it is very hard to make injera here in our area due to the humidity--so congratulations for those of you amazing folk who have downloaded recipes to try it out!!
The Injera that we have found most tasty at both these places is the Injera made by the sweet wife of the owner of Abay restaurant--she makes a ton of it each day and sells it--so you are receiving something very fresh. Look for her label--ABAY Injera when you buy it.

Addresses and Info. for the adventurous, foodies, and families with Ethiopian children out there

International Food Mart
206 Thompson Lane
Nashville, Tn 37211
Halal Meat and Global Grocery
Hamid Toloo
Zabih Shah

They also carry DELICIOUS homemade meat pastry pockets and their homemade pita is made simply with whole wheat flour and water only and is large, puffy and so yummy.

Bererie is 11.99 a pound--I bought about .36 lb for 4.32 and it lasted a long time.

They also carry farmer free range eggs--fresh from a local Mennonite Farm in the area.

A&H Merkato is at
2131 Murfreesboro Pike #107
Nashville, TN 37217
(615) 366-9377

The Shop owner is so kind to children and to other people. He spent a LONG time introducing me to Ethiopian cooking and showing me where all the spices were. He even told me to put some things back from my internet generated list... He is originally from ET. but raised his babies in California and now is here due to the family friendly nature of our area...

Thier butter is 7.99 a pound--it lasted us about 5 meals of cooking for ten And hosting a missions meal for about 20 here...

They also carry the powder needed for Shiro paste--another side dish that is very yum and very Amharic--all you do with this is to gradually add water to it--kinda like cream of wheat and it makes a quick taste of home to be scooped up by my honeys.
Shiro was 5.99 for a pound--it lasted as long as the butter did...

the 7 spice can be found here too--it is wonderful.

The Merkato's Berberie is 12.99 a pound I bought .40 lb months back for $
5.20 and am still using it.

They also sell Injera.

Go get you some!!

OR if you do not have time on your hands due to nesting and live in the Nashville area or South Nashville suburbs--Brentwood, Franklin, Spring Hill -- I would be glad to gather together these items for families for a delivery fee based on gas and time spent to pick them up.--Contact me at

I also am available for those of you in the African fellowship group and/or prospective Ethiopian parents for a modest fee to come to your home and teach you how to make Amarhic food--It would be my pleasure to share what we have learned!

For those of you who catch this blog out of town. I would be glad to gather these items together for you and ship them to you (can't ship the butter) for a gathering/delivery fee plus shipping. Contact me at

We will also be putting together a video tutorial the next Amarhic meal we make--let us know if you would be interested in something like this.

Any funds will be used toward educational costs for several of our children next year and our family's adoption/fostering ministry.

We are putting together today a brand new website related to these ideas it is called, Bruiky Bruik. Please visit us at
For all our ideas formated in a more organized way than this posting

Happy Friday!!


Tracy said...

Oh you are too much!!! Thanks for the hot tip! We are dying for some Tucker love over here!

That pic of Ashley is absolutely gorgeous! He totally captured her!!

love you!

Anonymous said...

Gillian---this sounds so good. I am watching Andrew Zimmern Bizzare Foods and he is in Ethiopia as we speak. Since we are about to start our Indian adoption--we have been eating lots of Indian food lately.I would love to try some Ethipian food soon though.
Lori P.

Amy @ Literacy Launchpad said...

This is AWESOME info! I have yet to try Ethiopian food. Need to do that soon!!