Friday, November 27, 2009

One Grain at a Time

A truly remarkable grain from Ethiopia, teff is a nutrient dense food. Super small in size and ranging in color from ivory, light tan to deep brown or dark reddish brown purple, depending on the variety. Teff can be used in virtually any recipe because it is so small. It has a mild, nutty, and a slight molasses like sweetness. The white teff has a chestnut-like flavor and the darker varieties are earthier and taste more like hazelnuts. Teff is very low in gluten, so low it has been approved for those with celiac disease.

Traditionally, teff is prepared by fermenting for three days and made into a spongy crepe-like flat bread called injera. Ethiopian’s use this bread to pick up bites of food instead of forks and spoons. In this picture, the injera is what the food is served on and also folded up along side.

20 cents a serving at $2.00 per lb.
1 lb = 2.2 cups dry = 8 cups cooked = 4 cups flour

To Cook:
1 cup grain to 4 cups water
Simmer 10 minutes, soaked
Simmer 25 minutes, unsoaked

To Store:
-Whole; indefinitely in an air tight container in a cool, dry place.
For long term storage freeze for 48 hours before storing.
-Flour and popped grains; up to 2 weeks in an air tight container, or freeze up to 1 year.
-Cooked; refrigerate for up to 10 days, or freeze up to 6 months.

To Use:
-Use flour for thickening sauces and gravies
-Flour may be added to baked goods.
-Cook to make a hot breakfast cereal.
-Add to soups
-Blends well with ground beef
-Use as a substitute for poppy seeds
-Sprout for salads and sandwiches

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Carbohydrates 73.1 g
Dietary fiber 8 g
Fat 2.4 g
Protein 13.3 g
Thiamin 0.4 mg 26%
Riboflavin 0.3 mg 16%
Niacin 3.4 mg 17%
Vitamin B6 0.5 mg 24%
Pantothenic Acid 0.9 mg 9%
Calcium 180 mg 18%
Iron 7.6 mg 42%
Magnesium 184 mg 46%
Phosphorus 429 mg 43%
Potassium 427 mg 12%
Zinc 3.6 mg 24%
Copper 0.8 mg 41%
Manganese 9.2 mg 462%
Selenium 4.4 mg 6%


  1. Very interesting! Have you ever made injera? I LOVE it, but have never made it. The injera that I have is light in color, so I imagine it is made with the white teff? I has a slightly sour taste, like sourdough. You write about such interesting things.

  2. I have never made it, I need to get some good Ethiopian recipes to make with it. One thing to be aware of is that most injera made in Western societies is mostly white flour, with as little as 10% teff. It is unfortunate but has become the American way.

  3. Interesting indeed. I've never heard of this before. I feel so cultured. :) The one time I had Ethiopian food I thought it was good. If you come up with any Ethiopian recipes, I'll be glad to try them.:)

  4. Same here, RECIPES! You are so interesting to read.

  5. does it need to be soaked with acid like other grains?

  6. The 3 day fermentation of teff can be done without acidic solution because the grain contains a symbiotic yeast. In a way it is making a one time use sourdough starter. As it ferments, it will pull bacteria from the air which will neutralize phytic acid. If you wanted to speed up the fermentation process, you could use kefir because of the many bacterias that would introduce. Lemon juice, vinegar and even yogurt would not work the same in this case.

  7. Love this post, thanks Kara. And just fyi for the locals who want good injera, I believe the injera at The Blue Nile Cafe in Tempe is only %10 white flour, %90 teff. From the picture it looks like you went there, yum!

  8. What a beautiful blog. I'm a friend of Becky's, and she had recommended I stop by your blog a while back when I had written about some of my adventures in nutritious eating. Thank you for all the ideas and recipes you share here. I'll stop by again. By the way, I love the book "In Defense of Food" which you had posted about a few months back. I highly recommend the movie "Food, Inc."...very accessible information and has a lot of interview footage with Michael Pollan, author of "In Defense of Food". Happy cooking and happy holidays to you.

  9. Kara - your recipes look SO GOOD! I don't know if you even remember me (I went to school with Jarom) but I just happened onto your food blog and now I need to come back and print off a bunch of recipes. And I didn't remember you were from Iowa - we just moved from Iowa City this summer. We lived there for the last 6 years while my husband finished up school! We loved it but it is CRAZY COLD in the winters!
    Thanks again for the great recipes I now need to try!

  10. Thank you all, I love hearing from readers, so do come back and share your experiences with the recipes.

    Tricia, I do remember crossing paths a few times. Sorry to hear you had to endure 6 years of Iowa winters. That's what drove me out of that state! Good luck with the recipes and come back soon, I will be posting more.

  11. I ate at a fabulous and very authentic Ethopian restaurant once, the injera was so fun and different to eat with. Unfortunatly they went out of business. Maybe I will try to make some of my own?!

  12. Do you have any advice on where to find teff? My Whole Foods doesn't have it. In fact, the workers there had never even heard of it. If you know a good source in Arizona I will be down there in a week, and I'll run pick some up.

  13. I have seen it at Whole Food before and other grocery stores sold with the Bob's Red Mill products. I order through Azure. I believe online stores like Amazon carries it as well.


It's rude to eat and run. Humor me with conversation please!

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