Taste of Somalia: Making Injera in MInnesota

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Q: A few weeks ago a coworker of mine took me to a restaurant called Safari.  It was my first time having Somali food, and I loved it!  I’m interested in getting into Somali food.  I’ve found a few other restaurants around the Twin Cities, but it seems Somali food is really underrepresented here among all the other cultures.  I’d like to try making a few things at home.  Are there any books on Somali cooking that you know of?

To my knowledge, there is only one Somali cookbook that’s ever been written. It is written by Barlin Ali and you can find it for about $30 on Amazon. But to help you until you get your book, here are two traditional recipes. The first is called Injera and the second is Malawax (pronounced ma-la-wah).  Injera is a typical Somali dish that is cooked by almost every Somali household in the morning. It is prepared the night before and cooked in the morning for breakfast.

You need:

Self-raising flour
Water
Salt
Sugar
And oil

Mix in a bowl two cups of flour, two and a half cups of water, a quarter teaspoon of salt, and one tablespoon of sugar. Mix it well like a pancake mix. It should be little bit thinner than pancake batter. To mix it well, use an electric mixer.

Heat a nonstick pan for a minute or two on medium low heat (3 or 4). Using a spatula or spoon pour a spoonful of the mix in the middle of the pan and make a slow circle with the back of the spoon starting from the center and working your way outward until you spread the mix all around the pan in a thin layer. When it gets brown on the edges, take it off and put it on a plate and repeat. Make sure you oil the pan once in a while so the Injera won’t stick.

Malawax is made in basically the same way as Injera, except instead of using self-raising flour, you use regular all-purpose flour, and add milk instead or water, a little more sugar, and an egg.  Malawax is thin, and very similar to French crepes.

Mix one cup of flour, one egg, one cup of milk, two tablespoon of sugar and one quarter teaspoon of salt.  If you have a ladle, use it to pour the batter into the pan, and then make the spiral motion with the back of the ladle to spread the batter thin.  When the edges look done, sprinkle a little oil on top and flip it over to brown the other side.  Repeat until the batter is gone.

I sometimes eat Malawax for breakfast with a little sugar and oil, and a popular thing to do back home was to make very, very sweet black tea and pour it over the Malawax, kind of like maple syrup here.  Another great thing to do is eat Injera or Malawax with dinner.  Next time you make a stew, you can take a piece of Injera/Malawax in your fingers and use it to pick up pieces of meat and veggies, then use what’s left over to mop up the sauce.  It’s like silverware you can eat!