I need help to injera my kids!
March 18, 2009 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Help me come up with (American) kid-friendly foods to have with injera (Ethiopian flatbread) in an Ethiopian-style meal.

I am going to be making injera (the Ethiopian flatbread) for the first time this weekend, following these, rather involved, instructions. I think my kids, 5 and 2, will love eating Ethiopian-style and my 5 yo is fascinated by the descriptions I have given her. You eat your plate! No forks! The problem is that my wife and I are planning to make some Doro Wat and Masir Wat to go with the injera, but I suspect my kids will not want to eat those, and the 5 yo hates anything remotely spicy at the moment. I am looking to the Hive Mind for kid-friendly food ideas to have with the injera. I will report back with whatever our experiences are.
posted by Tallguy to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Cottage cheese is really good (also for the adults, especially those for whom spicy food gets to be a bit much). We often make some sort of greens (chopped cooked collards, etc.) to go with our Ethiopian feasts as well; I don't know if that would count as kid-friendly, though.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:05 PM on March 18, 2009

I think this is a great idea.

What do your kids like? Anything that can be eaten with a fork can be eaten with injera.

Beanies & Weenies. Mac & Cheese (& Weenies). Spaghetti. Use your imagination (or ask them what they want).

On a side note, where do you get your berbere?
posted by torquemaniac at 4:06 PM on March 18, 2009

Response by poster: Cottage cheese is a good idea. We had already thought of spagettios, or something similar. Most Ethiopian dishes seem to be a stew of some sort, and that is something our kids like. I am hoping for inspiration for something different from what the kids normally have but something they would like.

For the Berbere I am going to make my own following this. I also may combine some of the ideas from this or this.
posted by Tallguy at 4:11 PM on March 18, 2009

Mashed potato? You could flavour it (with something non-spicy, since spicy's out) even.
posted by springbound at 4:12 PM on March 18, 2009

Sloppy joes! (Maybe with a little less sauce to keep it from getting crazy sloppy.)

Good question. I recently found our local 7-11 is selling injera, and I've been wondering what I could do with it (since I'm pretty sure actual Ethiopian food is beyond my skillz.)
posted by JoanArkham at 4:12 PM on March 18, 2009

As a kid I loved Dinty Moore beef stew and if you drain it a bit it would probably go great with injera.
posted by Bango Skank at 4:25 PM on March 18, 2009

A saucy rice-and-beans dish? Cauliflower chopped small in a cheese sauce? Diced grilled haloumi? Orzo with garlic and olive oil? Would your kids eat ratatouille?
posted by kmennie at 4:25 PM on March 18, 2009

I'd think anything smooshy that the kids already like would be fine (e.g., pasta sauce, sloppy joe) - injera is basically a mild starchy substrate for goopier flavorful foods, just like pasta or hamburger buns. How about pizza sauce and grated cheese? (Lame, but what kid would refuse pizza, even if the crust is weird and floppy?)

Strategic bonus: if you cook a few of those things now, you could stash away some leftovers for Injera Night and reheat them for the kids. You and your wife enjoy the Ethiopian dishes and the kids get familiar stuff on a fun edible plate.

OK, on preview you want to expose the kids to something different from their normal fare. A lot of Moroccan tagines are mild, even a bit sweet, and would probably go well with injera. Turkish and Greek lamb stews are also tasty and mild. Hummus would be excellent as well. However, I'd still have the familiar stuff on hand as a backup in case the kids get squawky.
posted by Quietgal at 4:27 PM on March 18, 2009

i like Bango Skank's Dinty Moore beef stew idea.
posted by torquemaniac at 4:52 PM on March 18, 2009

Ethiopian food! Delicious.

How about some kind of nut butter?
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:16 PM on March 18, 2009

Any kind of stew, just spice it very mild. Seconding something tagine-like.
posted by desuetude at 5:25 PM on March 18, 2009

My 10-year-old cousin is in the "peanut butter, white bread, and plain chicken breast" phase of his culinary life... except for Ethiopian food, of which he is a huge fan. Granted, there's a big difference between 5 and 10, but encourage them to try some of the real stuff — they may surprise you.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:58 PM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Something with sweet potatoes?
posted by slow graffiti at 6:42 PM on March 18, 2009

How about Ethiopian-style yellow lentil stew, maybe modified to make it even more mild?
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:14 PM on March 18, 2009

some sort of jam?

ijera is a bit "sour" so something to counter that for sure. I think a lot of crepe fillings would work if you are staying American style kid friendly

You should get a little berbere spice and mix it in something for traditions sake.

Remember to eat with your right hand only! The left is for "personally" use
posted by Black_Umbrella at 9:43 PM on March 18, 2009

Some other options would be anything that can be eaten with hands; you might look at getting pulled pork from a local BBQ, shredding a roast chicken, or a chicken/beef stew of some kind. In the case of the stew you'd want to use as little liquid as possible to make work better with the injera.

The Ethopian places I've tried also have had cooked veggies; generally lentils, carrots, cabbage, and collard greens. Those would also be good options.
posted by caphector at 11:59 PM on March 18, 2009

We eat Ethiopian food all the time! Of course my kids actually are Ethiopian.

Anyway, when we've had non-Ethiopian kids to visit, we've found they usually like Ethiopian food, as long as they can handle the spice level. Most kids love to eat the hard boiled eggs in doro wot and doro alitcha--if the wot is too spicy, then just keep some eggs separate from the wot and put them, peeled and plain, on the injera.

Is the spice your concern? Because if it is you might trying limited the spices in your doro wot and misr wot, or you might make doro alitcha and kik alitcha instead. (My kids could eat misr wot at every meal.)

But, if you want to avoid Ethiopian food at all: try Mexican food. Anything you'd wrap in a taco or burrito shell will probably work. Also, one of the best sandwiches I ever had was PB&J on injera in Ethiopia. Yum.

Have fun! Also, please let us know what you did. (Also, don't be disappointed if your injera doesn't work out right--I know many Ethiopian women who can't make good injera, and very few non-Ethiopian people who can either.)
posted by bluedaisy at 12:24 AM on March 19, 2009

Response by poster: Great answers guys. Thanks! I will report back after this weekend.
posted by Tallguy at 8:13 AM on March 19, 2009

What about making some traditional Ethiopian foods without all the spice? I went to an Ethiopian place in Berkeley once and I the food wasn't spicy (although I probably just chose the more bland items on the menu). Ethiopian food definitely is on the "comfort food" plane for me, it's all mushy and stewy - very kid friendly
posted by radioamy at 10:55 AM on March 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the advice. As for those who asked why we couldn't make non-spicy Ethiopian, our 5 yo is in the food-shouldn't-touch phase and stews and such are not to her liking.

After discussing our options with our 5 yo we went with simple: the kids had injera and corn and carrots (separate and warmed). Since it was special they were permitted a small amount of honey on their veggies. They loved it and want to do it again soon. I imagine we will try some of the other suggestions then.

I know people have trouble making injera, but ours turned out well and had plenty of ain (eyes) or holes from the natural yeasts. I used about equal parts white flour and teff and got an authentically mild sour taste in the injera. It was probably too sour for my 5 yo's palate and next time I might use a little less teff to see how it works.

For those who happen to be in central Oklahoma, Native Roots Market in Norman sells a Berbere spice they grind themselves. It worked well for us and the Doro Wat and Masir Wat were tasty.

Thanks for all of the tips!
posted by Tallguy at 8:29 AM on March 24, 2009

Thanks for the update! And I'm glad it went over so well. And--congrats on making good injera.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:12 AM on March 27, 2009

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