On my first night in Addis Ababa, I was introduced to the main staple of Ethiopian food: Injera. Injera is a sponge-like, sourdough bread made from teff that looks like a giant textured pancake and is used to scoop up different types of usually spicy Ethiopian stews called wat. Although I have dined at Ethiopian restaurants before in the States, I was truly looking forward to the real thing in Ethiopia. I find that generally ethnic food is best and spiciest when you have it in the motherland.
Injera is the traditional meal of Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea and is exceedingly healthy as it is full of iron thanks to the teff grain. It is made by combining teff flour with water and the mixture is fermented for several days giving it its sourdough base. Once the mixture has completed this process, it is baked on a large clay plate called a mittad over a hot fire and formed into a spongy, big pancake.
When you dine at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant or home, the first thing the waitress or host does is brings over a large bowl of warm water and soap to the guests to wash your hands. Since Ethiopian food is shared and everyone eats from the same big plate, having clean hands and using only your right hand while eating is proper etiquette.
The injera is spread out on a large platter with a few pieces ready for to grab.
Then the various wats (either vegetarian or meat spicy stews) are poured on top of the injera one at a time.