Cooking With Grains: Teff

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If you’ve ever dined in an Ethiopian restaurant, you’ve eaten teff, whether you know it or not. Teff is the world’s tiniest grain; roughly one-hundredth the size of a wheat berry. Its name derives from the Amharic word for “lost,” as small things are likely to be.

Teff is most commonly consumed in the form of injera, a spongy flatbread made from teff flour, which is used to scoop up wats (or “stews”) in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisines. Also called lovegrass, teff comes in an array of colors, ranging from ivory to purple, but brown is perhaps the most common shade.

The miniscule teff grain also packs a disproportionately large nutritional punch: its small size means that the germ and the bran – the most nutrient-dense layers – make up a larger proportion of the overall seed. The teff grain is also known for its superior amino acid profile, being high in lysine, a protein essential for muscle repair. It is the primary source of carbohydrates for many of Ethiopia’s elite runners, including marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie.

Like quinoa, rice, millet and amaranth, teff is completely gluten-free and a delicious wheat alternative for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. You can find teff at health food stores or ethnic markets.

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Liquid per cup of grain: 3 cups

How to cook teff: Combine teff and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until water is absorbed. You may stir occasionally towards the end of cooking.

Teff and Millet – November Grains of the Month

Each month, we’re featuring a different whole grain on the Whole Grains Council website, including information on its health benefits, cooking tips and recipes, historical/cultural facts, and more. .

In November we’re celebrating two grains – Millet and Teff, both of which have a long history in traditional diets. In November, Taiwan’s indigenous Bunun people hold a huge millet festival – you can even see the traditional singing of the millet hymn on YouTube. Meanwhile, across the globe in Horn of Africa countries like Ethiopia and Eritrea, teff is being harvested in November, to be made into injera, the region’s traditional spongy flatbread. So this month we’re offering two full Grain of the Month features.

Continue reading below for our feature on teff.
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All about Teff

Teff is the only fully-domesticated member of the genus Eragrostis (lovegrass). Its name is often assumed to be related to the word “lost” in Amharic – because of the tiny size (less than 1mm diameter – similar to a poppy seed) of its seeds.

This tiny size, in fact, makes teff ideally suited to semi-nomadic life in areas of Ethiopia and Eritrea where it has long thrived. (The photo to the left shows teff being harvested in Ethiopia.) A handful of teff is enough to sow a typical field, and it cooks quickly, using less fuel than other foods. Teff also thrives in both waterlogged soils and during droughts, making it a dependable staple wherever it’s grown. No matter what the weather, teff crops will likely survive, as they are also relatively free of plant diseases compared to other cereal crops.

Teff can grow where many other crops won’t thrive, and in fact can be produced from sea level to as high as 3000 meters of altitude, with maximum yield at about 1800-2100m high. This versatility could explain why teff is now being cultivated in areas as diverse as dry and mountainous Idaho and the low and wet Netherlands. Teff is also being grown in India and Australia. In Kansas, the Kansas Black Farmers Association is experimenting with teff – intrigued by both its connection to Africa and its market potential.

Growing in the fields, teff appears purple, gray, red, or yellowish brown. Seeds range from dark reddish brown to yellowish brown to ivory.

Health Benefits of Teff

Teff leads all the grains – by a wide margin – in its calcium content, with a cup of cooked teff offering 123 mg, about the same amount of calcium as in a half-cup of cooked spinach.

Teff was long believed to be high in iron, but more recent tests have shown that its iron content comes from soil mixed with the grain after it’s been threshed on the ground – the grain itself is not unusually high in iron.

Teff is, however, high in resistant starch, a newly-discovered type of dietary fiber that can benefit blood-sugar management, weight control, and colon health. It’s estimated that 20-40% of the carbohydrates in teff are resistant starches. A gluten-free grain with a mild flavor, teff is a healthy and versatile ingredient for many gluten-free products.

Since teff’s bran and germ make up a large percentage of the tiny grain, and it’s too small to process, teff is always eaten in its whole form. It’s been estimated that Ethiopians get about two-thirds of their dietary protein from teff. Many of Ethiopia’s famed long-distance runners attribute their energy and health to teff.

For a complete survey of the

Cooking Teff

In Ethiopia, teff is usually ground into flour and fermented to make the spongy, sourdough bread known as injera. As anyone knows who has eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant anywhere in the world, injera is used as an edible serving plate. Food is piled on a large round of injera on a tray in the middle of the table and different foods are served directly onto the injera. The diners eat by tearing off bits of injera, and rolling the food inside. Ethiopians also use teff to make porridge and for alcoholic beverages, including tella and katikala.

Today, teff is moving way beyond its traditional uses. It’s an ingredient in pancakes, snacks, breads, cereals and many other products, especially those created for the gluten-free market. You can also buy teff wraps.

White or ivory teff has the mildest flavor, with darker varities having an earthier taste. Those who have only tasted teff in injera assume it has a sour taste, but when it is not fermented (made into a sourdough), teff has a sweet and light flavor.

How you cook teff depends on how you like to eat it, according to our WGC Culinary Advisors. Lorna Sass advises “dry cooking” teff for 6-7 minutes, with 1 cup of teff in 1 cup of water, then letting it stand covered for five minutes. Her approach results in a grain “with the texture of poppy seeds” that’s great for sprinkling on vegetables as a topping, or for adding to soups. Robin Asbell suggests cooking teff for about 20 minutes, with 1 cup of teff in 3 cups of water producing a creamier end product. The Teff Company, in Idaho, advises cooking 1 cup of teff in 3 cups of water or stock.

Here are some recipes you can try, to get acquainted with teff:

Banana Bread with Teff and Chocolate

Teff Crepes with Spinach and Mushrooms

Teff Waffles

Maple Walnut Teff Porridge

You can easily buy teff grain and teff flour. Check out our Mail Order Whole Grains list for ideas.

Fun Facts About Teff

  • Just one pound of teff grains can grow an acre of teff, while 100 pounds or more of wheat grains are needed to grow an acre of wheat.

  • Teff requires only 36 hours to sprout, the shortest time of any grain.

  • Three thousand grains of teff weigh just one gram (½8 of an ounce).

  • Teff’s protein content (around 14%) is largely easily digested albumins (similar to a vegetable version of egg whites).

  • Teff is thought to have originated in Ethiopia about 4000-1000 B.C.E.

  • Teff is fermented by a symbiotic yeast living in the soluble fiber on the grain’s surface (like the blush on grapes).

Thanks to The Teff Company for some of the information on this page, including the harvest photo.

How To Cook Teff

Adding to your collection of gluten-free whole grain alternatives, teff is the seed of an annual grass that is a traditional staple in the cuisines of Eritrea and Ethiopia. It is the main ingredient in the sour-tasting flatbread called injera. For such a nutritious grain, teff seeds are tiny: about 100 to 150 teff seeds equal the size of one wheat kernel!

How To Cook Teff

​Starting Amount: 1/2 cup raw

​Pre-Soaking Requirement: ​No.

​Pre-Rinsing Requirement: ​No.

​Cooking Liquid: ​1.5 to 2 cups water

​Cooking Time: ​Bring water to boil. Add teff seeds to boiling water, and cover. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

​Resulting Yield: about 2 cups

​Nutritional Information (per 1/2 cup cooked teff):

  • Calories: ​127 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Protein: 4.9 g
  • Fat: 0.8 g
  • Fiber: 3.5 g
  • Glycemic Index (GI): ​Low
  • Gluten-free: ​No

​How to Add More Teff to Your Diet

  • Add cooked teff to salads, stews and soups or make breakfast porridge
  • If you’re feeling bold and want to try to make the Ethiopian injera from scratch
  • If you can find teff flour, you can try this Teff Muffin recipe

Sofia believes in bringing back fun and pleasure into everyday eating. She loves cooking, and is constantly experimenting with ingredients, creating recipes and trying them out on family and friends. Her latest interest lies in finding realistic and practical ways of environmentally-friendly food/eating habits.

7 Tremendous Teff Recipes to Try Today

Teff is a tiny grain that is gluten-free and super healthy. High in iron and amino acids, teff also provides a healthy dose of protein and is extremely easy to cook with. You can use this nutty-flavored grain to prepare a delicious dish for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. Whether you’re craving cookies, bread, burgers, or chili, there is a recipe here for you. Get in the whole grain spirit with these 7 tasty teff recipes.

Source: iStock

1. Teff Porridge With Apples, Dates, and Pecans

Nothing is more comforting than starting your day with a warm bowl of porridge. It’s even better when the porridge contains energy-sustaining ingredients, including teff, dates, apples, pecans, and cinnamon. This PBS recipe yields 2 servings.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup teff
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 6 mejdool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 apple, cubed small
  • One small handful of pecans, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup cream or milk of choice

Directions: Place a small heavy saucepan on medium-low heat and add the teff. Toast it, stirring frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn. After about 5 to 10 minutes, the grains will make little crackling sounds as they start to pop. Add the water, butter, cinnamon, half of the dates, and stir well. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. If the porridge becomes too thick, you can add a little water.

Once the porridge is thickened to your liking and the grains are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes, remove from heat. Stir in the cream or milk, ladle into bowls and top with chopped apple, pecans, and remaining chopped dates. Sweeten with honey or maple syrup to taste. Dust with a little cinnamon and serve.

Source: iStock

2. Banana Bread With Teff and Chocolate

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how delicious this Whole Grains Council recipe tastes. If you’d prefer to enhance this bread’s nutty flavor, add nuts instead of the chocolate bits. This recipe yields 20 slices of bread, and each has 170 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup teff flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon, stirring with a whisk. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until well-blended, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, beating until blended.

Add the banana and vanilla, beating until blended. Beat in the water. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into an 9-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Source: iStock

3. White Bean and Escarole Chili With Sharp Cheddar

This hearty dinner dish is a combination of teff, peppers, beans, zesty seasonings, and cheese. Blue Apron’s recipe via Yummly yields 2 healthy servings.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 head escarole
  • 1 lime
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • ¼ cup teff
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans
  • 1 (14 ½ ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth

Directions: Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and mince the garlic. Roughly chop cilantro. Roughly chop the escarole into bite-sized pieces. Peel and small dice the onion. Remove the ribs and seeds from the poblano pepper, then small dice it. Thinly slice half the jalapeño into rings, removing the seeds. Remove the seeds from the rest of the jalapeño and small dice. Grate the cheddar cheese.

In a medium pot, heat a little olive oil on medium until hot. Add the onion, garlic, poblano pepper, and diced jalapeño; cook 4 to 6 minutes, or until the onion and peppers are softened, stirring occasionally; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the teff for 1 to 2 minutes to toast it. Add the coriander and cumin, and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant, to toast the spices. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans, then add them to the pot along with the canned tomatoes and vegetable broth.

Simmer 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally until everything is well-combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped escarole and half the cilantro. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 5 to 6 minutes longer, or until the mixture starts to thicken, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the juice of half the lime. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the chili between 2 bowls. Garnish with the cheddar cheese, remaining lime wedges, and remaining cilantro.

Source: iStock

4. Creamy Gorgonzola Teff With Herb-Roasted Tomatoes

CookingLight has created a wholesome dinner dish that’s bursting with fresh flavor. Enjoy bite after bite of teff, cheese, sour cream, oven-roasted tomatoes, and tasty seasonings. The recipe yields 6 servings, with each containing 219 calories and 7 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 ½ cups 2 percent milk
  • 1 cup uncooked teff
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • ¼ cup fat-free sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup oven-roasted cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh thyme

Directions: Combine chicken stock and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in teff and salt. Cover and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat; stir in crumbled Gorgonzola, sour cream, and pepper. Divide teff mixture evenly among 6 plates. Top each with tomatoes; sprinkle with fresh thyme.

Source: Thinkstock

5. Teff Burgers

Your burger is about to get a whole lot healthier. Bob’s Red Mill recipe, which yields 6 servings, creates a perfect patty and is a nutritious alternative to a beef burger. Each patty contains 150 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme ground
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup whole grain teff

Directions: Place sesame oil, teff, water, thyme, garlic, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir once or twice toward the end of the cooking process. Spread cooked teff in a shallow pan to cool. When cooled, add scallions and form 6 equally portioned patties.

Heat a nonstick skillet that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray, and fry until nicely browned on both sides. Top with cheese; turn heat off and allow cheese to slightly melt. Assemble burgers with lettuce, tomato, and whole wheat buns.

Source: Thinkstock

6. Teff Brownies

WildFlours gfg‘s brownie recipe is gluten-free and doesn’t contain any nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, or rice. This is a dessert at its healthiest. Coconut sugar, teff flour, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg create a delectable brownie, which is topped off with coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, coconut sugar, and coconut oil. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut sugar or maple sugar
  • 2 cups dark teff flour
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cardamom
  • ⅔ cup softened coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree

Topping

  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup finely chopped sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoon melted coconut oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9 x 9-inch glass baking dish or square cake pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and mix well. Set aside. In a medium bowl combine all the dry ingredients except the coconut sugar with a whisk; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil, applesauce pumpkin purée and coconut sugar until well-combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat again.

Stop and scrape down the sides. Then beat again until the dough thickens slightly. Spread the dough into the prepared pan using a spatula. Even it out so that it is level and smooth. Sprinkle with prepared topping if using. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Source: iStock

7. Amazing Teff Chocolate Chip Cookies

Teff’s nutty flavor pairs perfectly with this dessert’s dark chocolate. Sweetened with maple syrup, almond butter, and applesauce, Artsy Foodie‘s recipe creates an easy, healthy, and scrumptious treat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roasted almond butter, unsalted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 ½ cups teff flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • Dark chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil two cookie sheets. In a food processor, place the almond butter, vanilla, apple sauce, and maple syrup. Mix to cream the ingredients together. Add the teff flour and salt to the food processor and pulse until combined. Scoop batter to make balls 1 and ¼ inches in diameter and then arrange in rows. Leave 1 inch of space around each one.

Using the back of a fork, flatten each ball of batter. Arrange dark chocolate chips evenly on top of each cookie. Bake for 13 minutes in the center of the oven. The bottoms should be slightly golden but the tops will still be slightly soft. Let cool on a rack.

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All ancient grains — quinoa, farro, millet — are terrific sources of plant-based protein, fiber, minerals, and slow-digesting carbs. But it’s one of the tiniest and most unsung of these grains that packs perhaps the mightiest nutritional punch: teff.

A Tiny Nutritional Powerhouse

No bigger than a poppy seed, teff hails from Ethiopia, and it’s just now working its way into Americans’ diets and quickly becoming a trusted fuel for endurance athletes. Similar to quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat, one serving of mild, nutty-flavored teff has about six grams of protein. It’s also rich in unsaturated fats and fiber (about 7 grams per cup), giving it a lower glycemic index than wheat, so it won’t cause blood sugar spikes. According to Kelly Toups, a registered dietitian at the Whole Grains Council, up to 40 percent of the carbohydrates in teff are resistant starch, a special type of fiber linked to healthy bodyweight and colon health.

Where teff really stands out is in its mineral content. One serving supplies 123 milligrams of bone-building calcium, the equivalent of a half-cup of cooked spinach. “I haven’t come across a grain that is higher in calcium than teff,” Toups says. “For example, millet has 8 milligrams per cup; oats have around 50 milligrams.”

Teff is also loaded with iron (5 grams per cup), a big boon for athletes. (We need ample iron to utilize oxygen effectively and stay energized during exercise, yet we lose this and other key minerals through sweat.) Additionally, one cup of teff has 126 milligrams of magnesium, an essential, tough-to-get mineral that promotes production of energy-supplying ATP and aids in muscle recovery.

How to Cook With It

Unlike quinoa or farro, teff grains are so small that they cling together, which means it’s not the best fit for salads or in place of noodles. “Its texture is more like polenta, porridge, or grits versus individual grains,” says Toups. “Teff works really well to thicken up and add more nutrition to soups and stews.”

You can also enjoy it as a hot cereal or porridge. “Boil whole-grain teff until it is cooked, then top with dried fruits, nuts, milk, or Greek yogurt to boost the protein content,” suggests Heather Mangieri, registered dietitian and author of Fueling Young Athletes. “Or get creative in the kitchen and use teff to make a homemade crust or flatbread pizza.” Teff is the main ingredient in injera, the sour, pliable flatbread you find at any authentic Ethiopian restaurant. As Toups points out, chef Marcus Samuelsson famously used injera as fuel for the 2015 New York City Marathon.

When baking with ground teff flour, “remember that it’s gluten-free, so you can’t just substitute it for wheat flour, because baked goods won’t rise the same way,” Toups says. “But for any kind of cookies, crepes, or pancakes, teff flour is one of most flavorful whole-grain flours I’ve worked with. It has chocolate-y undertones, so it’s great for brownies.”

Bonus: It’s Eco-Friendly Too

Besides its nutritional perks, teff has a great sustainability story. “It can thrive in a lot of different climates including drought and waterlogged soils, and it can flourish with lower levels of pesticides, less irrigation, and fewer inputs overall” says Toups. Plus, teff grows fast, sprouting in just 36 hours, and reproduces plenty.

While the vast majority of the world’s teff supply is grown in Ethiopia, we mostly consume teff grown in Idaho or a few other Western nations. This is because Ethiopia’s government began tightly restricting teff exports in 2006, as worldwide demand and prices began rising. According to Toups, the government was worried exports would cause domestic food shortages and price Ethiopians out of this staple, similar to what happened in South America when quinoa suddenly became the hot grain. But in the years since, the country has built up its infrastructure to grow more teff and secure supply and farming jobs, and Ethiopia eased the export ban in 2015.

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How to use teff

What is teff?

Grown and eaten in Northeast African for centuries, teff has become increasingly popular in North America in recent years, where it can be found in health food stores in grain form or ground into flour. It is higher in protein than wheat and is also high in iron, calcium and amino acids. It contains no gluten, which makes it ideal for coeliacs or people with wheat sensitivities.

How do you use teff?

In Ethiopia, teff is traditionally ground into flour and used to make a delicious traditional flatbread called injera. Teff can be used to make breads, pancakes, porridge, cereal and other baked goods that use flour.

How do you cook teff?

  • Use teff flour as a substitute in whole or in part for regular flour.
  • Dry fry teff in a pan for five minutes and then soak in boiling water for five minutes (uncovered) for a slightly crunchy texture that makes a nice topping for vegetables, soups or stews.
  • Cook 1 cup of teff in 3 cups of water for 20 minutes for a creamier texture.
  • Mix cooked teff with herbs, seeds, beans, grains or tofu to make veggie burgers.
  • Use it to thicken soups or stews by simmering it in with the other ingredients for 20-30 minutes until tender.

Where can I get it?

Teff is hard to find in Australia but can be found in some African specialty food stores. Otherwise, try gluten-free producers for Teff flour products or buy Teff flour online from Shield and Spear.

What the Eff Is Teff and How Do You Eat It?

Teff might be an ancient grain, but it’s getting a lot of attention in contemporary kitchens. That’s partly because the health benefits of teff make it a great addition to anyone’s cooking game, and oh ya, it tastes good.

Each grain is actually a seed from a type of grass called Eragrostis tef, which grows mostly in Ethiopia. The seeds soak up nutrients from the soil and the husks around each seed provide plenty of fiber-more on that later. (Here are 10 more Ancient Grains to Switch Up Your Healthy Carbs.) “The flavor is mild and a little bit nutty, and texture is a little bit like polenta,” says Mindy Hermann, an R.D. based in New York City. You may also find teff flour, a ground version used for baking. Read the package instructions carefully, as recipes that call for a wheat-based flour may need adjusted measurements or thickening agents added.

Here’s what’s great about teff

A mega dose of nutrition is packed into these tiny seeds. “Teff contains more calcium per serving than any other grain and boasts iron, fiber, and protein to boot,” says Kara Lydon, R.D., L.D.N., author of Nourish Your Namaste and The Foodie Dietitian Blog.

One cup of cooked teff will run you about 250 calories, and lend 7 grams of fiber and nearly 10 grams of protein. “It’s high in resistant starch, a type of fiber that can help with digestion, weight management, and blood sugar control,” says Lydon. Teff is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including bone-building magnesium, energizing thiamin, and blood-building iron. With menstruation putting women at a greater risk of iron deficiency, working teff into your diet is a smart preventative strategy. In fact, one study from the UK found that women with low iron were able to pump up their iron levels after eating teff bread every day for six weeks. (Think you could use some more iron? Stock up on these 10 Iron-Rich Foods for Active Women.)

Sure, there are plenty of other ancient grains that are rich nutritionally but don’t go lumping teff in with all the rest. Teff is special because it contains zero gluten-that’s right, a naturally gluten-free grain. A landmark study from the Netherlands proved teff could be safely eaten in people with Celiac’s disease.

How to eat teff

“This ancient grain can be used in a variety of ways, similar to how you might use oats,” says Lydon. “You can use teff in baked goods, porridge, pancakes, crepes, and bread or use it as a crunchy salad topping.” Hermann suggests using teff as a substitute for polenta or spreading cooked teff on the bottom of a pan, topping it with mixed eggs, and baking it like a frittata. (I’f your stomach growls at the mere mention of frittatas, then you’re going to want to see these 13 Easy and Healthy Frittata Recipes.) The grain is also great in dishes where it can soak up rich sauces, like Indian curries. Try swapping teff for your usual oatmeal in a breakfast bowl or adding it to homemade veggie burgers. Teff flour also makes awesome bread!

Teff Breakfast Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup teff
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds

Directions:

1. Bring water to boil.

2. Add teff and pinch salt. Cover and simmer until the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally; about 15 minutes.

3. Remove from heat, stir, and sit covered for 3 minutes.

4. Stir in honey, cinnamon, and almond milk.

5. Put teff mixture in bowl. Top with blueberries, chopped almonds, and chia seeds.

  • By By Julie Stewart

Teff

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Yield: 20 cookies

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put all ingredients, with the exception of the water, into your high-power blender or food processor. Process until a thick dough forms. Add the water and pulse until the dough is thick and creamy. (Note: if you don’t have a high-power blender or food process, blend together the banana, water, and almond butter in your blender, transfer to a bowl, add remaining ingredients, and stir until well combined.)

Using a small ice cream scoop or medium-sized spoon, place batter scoop by scoop onto a cookie tray lined with parchment paper (the number of cookies the batter makes will depend on how big you make your cookies).

To slightly flatten and shape the cookies rinse your clean fingertips under running water, and then shape as desired. When the dough starts to stick to your fingers, re-rinse your fingertips and continue.

Place prepared cookie tray into the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes (until the top of the cookies have little holes in them and no longer stick to your fingers when lightly touched). The cookies will feel a bit soft at the 20-minute mark but the outer shell will be crisp. Remove them from the oven and let them cool. Once cool, gobble them up and store any leftovers in the fridge.

Delicious & Versatile In Recipes

Ivory and brown teff are sweet-tasting grains unlike any other. Brown teff has a subtle hazelnut, almost chocolate-like flavor and a moist texture similar to millet (but more exotic). Ivory teff has a milder flavor than the brown.

Both the ivory and brown teff grain have the versatility of corn meal and millet. Delicious in porridge, stews, stuffing, and pilaf, teff can be cooked alone or in combination with other grains and vegetables. Simply cook 1 cup teff with 3 cups water or stock. Season with one or more of the following spices for a tasty dish: cinnamon, ginger, garlic, cardamom, chilies, basil and cilantro. Teff is quick cooking, too. No need to pre-rinse, teff comes clean, having already passed through a series of screens after harvest. Ready in 20 minutes, Teff is ideal for a fast meals. For pastries, ivory and brown teff flour make superb pancakes, pie crusts, and cookies.

Teff grain and teff flour are wonderful alternatives to wheat, barley and rye for those on a gluten-free diet. Teff flour will expand food choices beyond potato, corn and rice flour!

Teff is rich tasting and very versatile. To complement its great flavor, use other 100% natural and organic ingredients. Bring out the best in all you cook and bake with ivory and brown teff grain and flour.

100% Teff Injera

Hiyaw, an inspired entrepreneur and talented chef, was an early HBK Incubates member and started his Ethiopian catering company in our kitchens. Injera, a spongy flatbread made with teff flour, an ancient gluten-free grain, is served underneath savory Ethiopian dishes. It’s traditionally used as both food and utensil, so you tear injera into pieces and wrap up bites of food in it, eating the whole package with your hands. Injera’s naturally fermented starter gives it a distinctive sour taste that cuts the richness of long-simmered soups and stews such as Doro Wat.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups/600 g teff flour
  • 5 cups/1135 g water, plus more as needed

The Hot Bread Cookbook
by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez

Directions

1. Whisk together the teff flour and water in a large bowl until a smooth batter forms. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, making sure there’s space between the plastic wrap and the water (air is necessary for proper fermentation).

2. Let the batter sit at room temperature until it is foamy and quite fragrant, 24 hours. Keep the bowl covered the entire time. Do not stir the batter while it’s fermenting.

3. After 24 hours, uncover the batter and if there is water on top, pour it off and discard (stop pouring once the water starts to get mixed with the batter). Whisk the batter until it’s smooth. It should be the consistency of thick pancake batter; if it’s too thick, add a bit more water.

4. Spread a clean kitchen towel over a large work surface. Put a 12-inch/30 cm nonstick skillet over high heat. Once it’s hot (a drop of water will sizzle upon contact), using a fast hand, ladle 3/4 cup/180 ml of the batter into the skillet starting in the middle and quickly moving around in a circle. Swirl the skillet to coat the bottom evenly with the batter—don’t add more batter to fill the gaps. Adjust the heat as necessary so that the injera doesn’t burn, and cook until the surface shows bubbles, about 30 seconds. Cover the skillet with a lid and let the injera cook until the surface loses its gloss, about 2 minutes more. You may need to remove the lid and wipe off the condensation once or twice. Invert the skillet onto a towel, letting the injera fall from the pan; you may have to gently tap the skillet on the work surface to release the bread.

5. Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking the injera between pieces of parchment paper as you go. Serve warm. Leftover injera, still separated by layers of parchment, can be stored in a plastic bag at room temperature for a day. Reheat in a skillet for a minute on each side.

How to use Teff Flour

Cooking and Baking with Teff Flour

Teff flour is widely known for its versatility, especially in baked goods. Teff has traditionally been used in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine to make injera, and it can easily be adapted into your diet as well!

Taste:

Teff flour is a very fine flour with an earthy, slightly nutty and sweet taste. Both ivory and brown teff flours pair best with chocolate, fruits, nuts, and seeds to create baked goods with a variety of tastes and textures. Teff flour pairs best with chocolate and nutty, mocha and hazelnut flavours. For this reason, teff seems to naturally work together with cocoa powder.

Texture:

Teff, when used to replace up to 25% of the flour called in any recipe, brings a lighter, and tender texture along with its delicious taste!

Made with the whole-grain, teff produces as fine flour that can be gritty when used in large amounts, depending on the recipe. As a gluten-free flour, teff also forms a dense texture when used in larger amounts as well.

Pairing teff with cocoa powder works great to soften teff’s dense texture and works wonderfully to create smooth, and delicious brownies, cakes, and cookies with a sweet chocolate flavor.

If you’re looking for recipes with more texture, including nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, and oats, will mask the flour’s gritty texture as well.

Appearance:

Our authentic Abyssinica teff comes in two different colours, ivory and brown. Ivory teff flour has a lighter colour and more of a mild flavour than brown teff flour, which has a slightly more pronounced earthy, nutty taste that accompanies its light greyish-brown colour.

The only major difference is their colour.

Both ivory and brown teff flours are exactly the same nutritionally, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on the amazing health benefits that they both provide!

Teff’s friends:

The best part about teff flour is the fact that it works great with other flours! Teff’s dark colour and nutty flavour also pair well with gluten-free flours like buckwheat, rice, tapioca, and cassava flours. Teff doesn’t only work great with gluten-free flours, but works great with oats, wheat, barley, and rye flours as well.

Teff flour also gives a wonderful boost to other flours that lack in nutrition. This ancient whole-grain is ready to add essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to any flour in your pantry!

Storage:

Due to the fact that teff flour is made from the whole-grain, it should be kept in a cool and dry place, away from heat, for up to 2 months, refrigerated for 6 months, or kept in a freezer for up to one year. Find out more about storing whole-grains at Whole Grains Council.

Applications:

A general rule of thumb when working with teff flour is to substitute ¼ of the flour called for in any baking recipe (gluten-free or not) with teff. It will not only add a significant amount of nutritional value, but make a light, tender, and flavorful contribution to anything from breads and cakes to cookies and waffles.

*These are our current general recommendations on how much teff you should use to replace standard recipes using all-purpose flour or gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour.

Cookies and biscuits:

Teff works wonders for all types of cookies! However, you should use different amounts of teff flour depending on the flavour and type of cookie. For example, chocolate-chip and nut-butter cookies are thick, chewy, and moist with 50-100% teff flour. On the other hand, you’re always safe using 25% teff flour for any cookie recipe, even if you’re not looking for a nutty, chocolatey, or sweet taste from the flour.

Pancakes and Waffles:

Cooking with anywhere from 25% to 100% teff flour is great for pancakes! Teff gives a sweet taste with a fluffy and tender texture, and the pancake colour will only significantly darken if you use more than 50% teff flour.

Banana Bread:

Baking with 50% teff flour makes a great tasting banana bread where the nutty flavour of teff and bananas go great together to form a smooth and delicious treat!

Brownies:

Teff works great with chocolate, and brownies are a great way to show it! Baking with 100% teff flour gives a deliciously moist and deep chocolate flavour, as teff and cocoa powder complement each other well.

Cakes:

Teff works best chocolate and coffee cakes that are baked with 75-100% teff flour. For a lighter sponge, layer, or pound cake, substituting 25% of the flour with teff will make a tender and moist cake.

Muffins:

Baking with 25% teff flour produces muffins that have a moist texture with some mild sweetness from the flour itself. If you are baking muffins with nuts or chocolate, we recommend using 50%-100% teff flour to add a more pronounced taste. Although the muffin will be denser, including nuts, cocoa powder, or chocolate will mask any grittiness from the flour.

Using higher levels of teff will not work with all recipes, however, as it can produce a dense, dry, and grittier result for two main reasons:

#1. Higher levels of teff in certain recipes may form drier and dense results because of the fact that teff is a gluten-free grain and should be compensated with more liquids, just like you would in any gluten-free baking recipes.

#2. Higher levels of teff flour in certain recipes may also form a fine, gritty texture in the finished product. This is caused by the fact that teff flour is a whole-grain flour.

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t bake with 50 or even 100% teff flour!

There are many recipes that use 50 or 100% teff flour in pancakes, waffles, cookies, and banana breads that are both moist, fluffy, and delicious. You can find these recipes all over the internet, and we’re constantly coming up with more delicious recipes over right here on our website’s recipes page!

So, now that you know more about cooking and baking with teff flour, come and Rediscover the Lost Grain!

“You might have eaten teff and not known it.”

Injera, the spongy Ethiopian bread, is made of teff flour.

When people find out I cannot eat gluten, they often say, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

(Not me.)

And the next utterance? “Um, does that mean you are on the Atkins diet?”

Nope. Not even close. Can I eat rice? Yes. Corn? Oh yeah to tortillas. Potatoes? I don’t know what I would do without potatoes.

I am not on a low-carb diet. In fact, now that I live gluten-free, I eat more whole grains than ever before. Did you know that many Americans do not eat a single whole grain in a year? Not one. Think about it. How many people grab a toaster waffle for breakfast, a sandwich on white bread for lunch, take-out tacos for dinner? There’s a lot of processed wheat in those on-the-run days but not many whole grains.

If I had not been forced to go gluten-free because of my celiac diagnosis, I don’t know that I would have ever eaten teff.

Teff is the staple grain of Ethiopia where it has been growing for thousands of years. Because it’s labor-intensive to grow and harvest, the grain stayed in the hands of men and women who grew it, rather than being traded to other countries. It took a civil war for the rest of us to find it.

The military junta in charge of Ethiopia after the death of Haile Selassie demanded that farmers stop growing teff and start growing wheat, in order to make money in exports for the economy depleted by war. An American aid worker from Idaho named Wayne Carlson fell in love with the grain and the food made from it after working in Ethiopia in the 1970s. He asked the farmers to share their growing secrets with him. When he left the country, he came home with teff seeds in his suitcase. (Surely the TSA wasn’t searching for those.) Carlson began growing teff in Caldwell, Idaho, which has similar growing conditions to the high hills in Ethiopia.

Today, every ounce of teff eaten in the U.S. comes from the seeds Wayne Carlson smuggled back from Ethiopia, and most of it sold through his Teff Company. (I love a food story with rebellion and smuggling involved.)

You might have eaten teff and not known it. Have you ever been to an Ethiopian restaurant with friends? That dark brown, spongy-as-a-yoga-mat flatbread in the middle of the platter surrounded by yellow lentils, sautéed greens, and a big pile of meat? That’s injera, a slightly sour flatbread typically made with teff flour. Most U.S. restaurants mix teff flour with wheat flour because the water is different enough (compared to water in Ethiopia) that the injera never comes out quite right. Injera–kind of like a giant crepe, kind of like a dosa–is the center of that table. Everything combines in flavor with the teff bread.

But for most of us, our brief connection with teff ends there. An alluring and exotic meal, a sourdough taste at the back of the mouth, a good memory. Me?

I use teff in nearly everything I bake.

The teff grain is so tiny, it takes three thousand grains to weigh one gram. Can you imagine how fine a flour that makes? If you’ve ever tried a packaged gluten-free cookie, you know that most of them have the heft of the brick you keep behind the door in case an intruder breaks in. Not much lightness there. However, in combination with other flours, teff can make a lovely bread, a tender pie crust, and crisp little banana pancakes. I throw teff flour into muffins and quick breads. Because the flour is so fine, it almost turns gelatinous when heated, binding the other ingredients together. It’s a sort of substitute for gluten that way. I’m convinced that banana bread is actually better gluten-free (with teff) than with wheat flour.

But you don’t have to combine gluten-free flours to get some whole grains. Why not try some teff porridge? Each tiny grain of teff contains both the bran and germ, where all the nutrients live. Teff is full of protein and calcium, as well as iron. (One cup of cooked teff contains all the daily iron recommended by the USDA.) Think of the prowess of Ethiopian long-distance runners in world running events–they all grew up eating teff.

And the taste of that porridge? Satisfying and unexpected, something like dark chocolate, a hint of maple syrup. Now, I can’t imagine living without it. Once, I did not know it existed.

How to cook teff?

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