One cold January morning, I ran down to meet with Shmuel Legesse and learn how to make Ethiopian style matzah. In Ethiopia, matzah is made just like it it had been done for the first Passover when the Jews were fleeing Egypt through the desert: By hand. And FAST. In each home, the women form an assembly line to produce each matzah one at a time, diligently following the 18-minute time limit from start to finish. After the flour, salt, and water have been mixed, the dough is quickly formed, rolled out into a pita-like size, and placed onto a flat clay pan called a Mitadt. The bread then bakes in this pan until it is crispy and browned on both sides, and brought to the table to be eaten immediately. The resulting bread is more like a thick cracker that is slightly pliable, with a taste that is nutty and earthy. (Known as Kit’ta in Amharic, and Kicha/Kitcha in the dialect of Tigrinya).
Yield: Makes One 8- or 9-inch matzah
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black sesame oil (not light brown Asian kind) or sunflower oil
2 ounces cold water
For Baking in Pan:
1 tablespoon black sesame oil or sunflower oil
Measuring cups and spoons
Medium mixing bowl
8- or 9-inch non-stick or cast iron skillet
1. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
2. Begin heating an 8- or 9-inch skillet (preferably non-stick or cast iron) over a medium-low heat.
3. Mix wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Once liquid has been fully absorbed, gather dough into a small ball.
4. Grease your hands with a little oil and briefly pound the ball with your fist in the bowl, then quickly press ball down with your palm into a disk about 4 inches wide.
5. Place disk into the heated skillet and being careful not to burn yourself, gently press disk down until it fills the size and shape of the pan. Using a dinner fork, press the back of the tines all over the surface.
6. Raise heat to a medium-high flame and continue to cook until bottom becomes flecked with very dark brown spots, about 5 minutes. Flip bread over and cook second side an additional 3 minutes until browned. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Continue to prepare additional matzahs, one at a time (or if you can keep track of time, two at a time in two separate skillets.)