Somali Anjero (Canjeero)

July 02, 2012

Somali Anjero

The African cuisine with its diversity and exotic flavours exerts a kind of fascination on me that no other cuisine does. I became interested in learning the African ways of cooking during my stay in Dubai a few years ago when I had many opportunities to enjoy authentic Moroccan and Egyptian dishes. Unlike North-African and Ethiopian cuisines, Somali cuisine is not well known to the western world and I was fortunate to discover it through Xawaash (pronounced Hawash), a wonderful food blog run by a husband and wife team that documents traditional recipes and cooking techniques passed on by generations, in an effort to preserve the country's rich culinary heritage and to help Somalis living abroad to reconnect with their roots. Abdullahi and Leila's efforts to bring Somalia's distinctive cuisine to the world are admirable, as Xawaash is gaining popularity among African and non-African communities alike. Their dedication and passion shine through in every post.

Somali Anjero

The blog title itself is fascinating, xawaash being a spice mix that gives Somali food its unique character and flavour, and the spice-themed banner is absolutely beautiful. The posts are very exciting to read, informative and captivating from start to end. The recipes are well organized, with clear instructions, step-by-step photos and high-quality videos.

The posts seem to be constructed as an open dialogue with the readers that carries on through comments which I greatly enjoy reading as well. I deeply appreciate authors who take the time to respond to comments and connect with their readers. Xawaash stands out through professionalism, creativity and authenticity, as well as its user-friendly navigation. The posts are bilingual and there is also an option to translate them in other languages.

Somali Anjero

Some dishes have been simplified and the cooking method has been adapted to fit with the rhythm of the modern life while still preserving the traditional character and taste. Somali food is simple, yet flavourful and Xawaash does a great job at showcasing these qualities. I believe the visual part of a recipe is very important to entice the readers and make them want to try a certain food. As the saying goes, the eye sees, the heart desires.

I find videos to be most helpful when making an unfamiliar dish. What I love about the videos on Xawaash, apart from the thorough presentation of the cooking process, is the beautiful Somali music in the background and the pictures at the end showing different parts of Somalia.

Somali Anjero

While Somali food is primarily meat-based, I was very happy to find this vegan recipe for anjero on Xawaash. Anjero, known under this name in southern Somalia and as lahooh (laxoox in Somali) in the northern part, is a large, spongy, fermented pancake-like bread similar to injera, the traditional bread of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Lahooh is also found in Yemen and Israel. Unlike injera which is large and has a strong sour flavour, anjero is smaller and only a little bit tangy. The anjero batter is traditionally made by hand, beaten until smooth and left to ferment overnight, then cooked on a circular metal plate called daawa or daawo. Xawaash provides a simpler way to prepare anjero, but does not leave out the fermentation process which is important for an authentic taste.

This type of bread reminds me of the Moroccan Baghrir and Middle-Eastern Qatayef, as all three are cooked only on one side and have the mille trous (thousand holes) appearance. The closest it can be described is this: large as a crêpe, light and spongy like a pancake and chewy like fresh crumpets.

Somali Anjero

Xawaash provides three different anjero recipes. I chose the one using sorghum flour and white corn meal in addition to self-rising flour, as I was excited to work with ingredients I'd never used before. Besides, these ingredients are typically used in Somalia to make anjero and I wanted the authentic taste. While my photos are a poor reflection of how beautiful the anjeros turned out, I invite you to visit Xawaash, read their wonderful post and watch the video for the full instructions on how to make anjero. I've made the recipe twice and each time the anjeros came out fantastic.


Somali Anjero (courtesy of Abdullahi and Leila, authors of Xawaash)
Makes about 24 anjeros

This recipe has 3 steps: preparing the starter (1 hour to soak), preparing the batter (2 hours to ferment) and cooking the anjero (about 1 hour). Although it is a bit time-consuming, it is very easy and a lot of fun to make.

Step 1 - Starter
  • 1 cup white corn meal
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour (juwar flour)
  • 1 Tb sugar (the first time I used white sugar, the second time demerara sugar)
  • 1 Tb instant dry yeast (active dry yeast works well too, I used it when the instant one wasn't available)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
Mix the ingredients well in a bowl and leave uncovered to soak for one hour.

Note: The measuring cup used in the original recipe is 237 ml. Since the difference wasn't much, I used my 250 ml cup and it was fine. The other measuring utensils I used are 1/2 cup = 125 ml, 1/4 cup = 60 ml, 1 Tb = 15 ml.


Step 2 - Batter
  • 4 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup demerara sugar
  • Starter mixture (above)
  • 4 1/4 cups lukewarm water
In a large bowl add the flour, sugar and starter. Mix by hand, adding water in stages to avoid lumps. Beat the batter until smooth. Alternatively you can add all the water at once and use an immersion blender to save time, but that won't give you the satisfaction of a handmade anjero nor the "music" made by the slapping of the batter:) Do watch the video to know what I mean. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave on the countertop to ferment for two hours (it will be risen and bubbly).


Step 3 - Making the anjero

Heat a griddle or non-stick pan on medium. Stir the batter before using. With a ladle pour the batter in the centre of the pan and use the bottom of the ladle to spread it around in a spiral or swirl pattern (shown in the video). You need to do this quickly, as the anjero gets cooked fast. It will take a few attempts before you can make beautiful swirls, but it's really easy and fun. Not all my anjeros turned out round, some were oval in shape, but that didn't matter, they were still delicious:)

Somali Anjero

The anjero is done when the batter dries up.

Somali Anjero

Using a spatula remove the anjero from the pan. Continue with the remaining batter and stack the anjeros to remain soft. For a crispy anjero let it cook a few more seconds.

Somali Anjero

Other recipes that I found use less sugar or none at all. I find that it adds a nice flavour to the anjero and it also speeds up the fermentation process. Anjero is eaten daily in Somalia with sweet or savoury food. I had it as dessert with jam and as side dish with chickpea curry.

Somali Anjero

In my searches I found 4 different ways of cooking anjero:
  • pour the batter in the centre of the pan and tilt it around to spread like a crêpe
  • pour the batter from a glass in the centre of the pan, then use the bottom of the glass to spread it around in circular motion
  • pour the batter in a thin stream using a glass, start from the centre of the pan and move outwards in a spiral pattern, working clockwise, then let it cook through
  • pour the batter in the centre using a ladle and use it to create the swirl pattern (the Xawaash method that I used).

Somali Anjero

The anjero aroma as it cooks instantly fills the kitchen and it's hard to resist eating it hot. This is a very interesting and delicious dish that I wholeheartedly recommend you try.

Somali Anjero

There are a few other recipes on Xawaash that I find fascinating and would love to try:

Maanda (or Muufo Baraawe) - a traditional bread from Brava, Somalia that is cooked in a most interesting way (vegan)

Sabaayad - a fusion between Indian chapati and paratha (vegan)

Rice Cake (Mkate wa Maashara) - a sweet, spongy, springy cake that's cooked in an unsual way (easy to veganize).

I hope you like anjero as much as I do.

Enjoy and spread the magic!:)


I put a lot of time, effort and passion into each recipe I post. My greatest satisfaction comes from your feedback. If you made this recipe, please take a minute of your time to leave a comment below. And if you like it, please share it so that others have access to it as well. Thank you all in advance!

18 comments:

Abdullahi & Leila

Amazing! You have really perfected the Anjero and we are very impressed. You have included more information about Anjero that is very useful. We also love the pictures and the step by step instructions. The way you have mastered Anjero shows your talent and your passion for food. We salute you and we wish you all the best.

Vegan Magic

Thank you so much Abdullahi and Leila for your kind words:) Making the anjero was an amazing adventure and I hope to inspire others to try the recipe. I also hope to have the same great result with the other Somali foods I want to make. Thank you for the wonderful recipes you share!

Anonymous

where can one get sorghum flour?

Vegan Magic

Hi and thank you for asking. It is available in Asian stores and it can also be purchased online. You'll find it as sorghum or juwar flour.

Anonymous

Hi Thank u so much for replying so swiftly, i can't wait to make this :) also where is the Video you have mentioned? Thank you.

Anonymous

never mind i found it :) on the Somalian Block
http://xawaash.com/?p=1548

Vegan Magic

I'm glad you found it:) I provided the link to the original recipe with video when I mentioned the anjero, the text is blue and bold. It's great that you want to try the anjeros and I look forward to your feedback. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did:)

Anonymous

hi dear vegen magic,
do you mind if i use your pictures of the somali anjero, even though im an somali i can never make such as beuatiful anjero.

Vegan Magic

Hi Anonymous, I'm happy that you like how the anjero came out. Would you mind sending me a message through the Contact form with information on how and where you'd like to use my pictures? Thank you!

Anonymous

Wow the anjeero looks so beautigul in the pic <3 i'm impressed by ur results of making the anjeero .. good luck with the other dishes u gonna try..

Vegan Magic

@Anonymous - This is very kind of you, thank you so much for the encouraging words:) I'm happy you like how the anjero turned out. I have tried other Somali dishes as well, will post them soon:) Thank you so much for stopping by.

Lula

Wow, you probably make better canjeero/anjero than me! Looks really good ^^

Vegan Magic

Lula, I'm flattered:) Thank you so much for your kind words. With such a great recipe and excellent details and video from Xawaash this couldn't have been anything but a success:)

abdi

I have been trying to make this for about a year now. I still mess it up every time.

Vegan Magic

Abdi, on one side I'm sad that you didn't get to enjoy the anjero yet, on the other I admire your persistence - one year! Wow! Which part doesn't seem to work for you, the batter or the swirls? Have you watched the video on Xawaash? It's so easy. I do hope next time is successful:)

Unknown

Can you make canjeero without the corn flour?

Pixie

Hi was wondering if all purpose flour could be replaced with rice flour or teff as lm gluten allergies

Vegan Magic

Unknown, thanks for asking. I guess you can.

Pixie, I wouldn't try rice flour, as the texture would be too grainy and the taste would be different. Teff is used to make Injera, you can find plenty of recipes and info online. Thanks so much for stopping by.

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