Teff - A New Grain Steps Up to the Plate

teff.pngAs wheat has begun to lose it’s luster with more and more American’s realizing they are gluten-intolerant, other grains have tried one by one to steal the spotlight at our table.

While quinoa has done its darndest to step up to the plate (pun intended) there’s a new grain in town that goes by the name of Teff. This tiny nutrient packed grain from Ethiopia is mostly made up of bran and germ.

The Teff Company explains that the grain is,“—about the size of a poppy seed—that comes in a variety of colors, from white and red to dark brown.” They go on to describe the grain as having a “very mild, nutty flavor.

Teff has been around since between 4000 BC and 1000 BC.

Its lasting power is no surprise, however, when you consider how healthy it is. Teff is not only rich in calcium, thiamin and iron, it’s also high in fiber, which is thought to help control blood sugar levels for diabetics.

Teff grain is gluten free. While it can be ground down to be used in cooking and baking, it cooks differently than flour and may take some tweaking. Uncooked, it can be used in place of any small grain, nut or seed.

Some worry that the grains rise in popularity in the States (there is even talk of having it used as a staple for livestock) may be to the detriment of Ethiopian farmer. An article in Takepart, however, profiles a business that is trying to make it possible to purchase directly from the Ethiopians. Aleem Ahmed, a Harvard- and MIT-trained former management consultant who worked for a time with the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, has made it his goal to bring this new grain in all it’s glory to the States without hurting the farmers abroad. As the co-founder of LOVE GRAIN, Ahmed plans to make a series of Teff centered products, such as their “Breakfast Mix for making Teff waffles. To date, they are the only company with ready-to-eat Teff products but it is more than likely they won’t be the last.

If you are interested in tasting this new “it” grain for yourself, you can purchase the ground grain from Bob’s Red Mill.

An article in the Washington Post explains that the most traditional use of the grain is made when teff is,

“ground into a flour and fermented to make injera a spongy, sourdough flatbread that is soft, porous and thin like a pancake. Traditional Ethiopian restaurants serve injera with all meals as an edible serving plate topped with meats, vegetables and sauces.

You can try your hand at making, traditional Injera yourself with this Yum

Universe recipe or get a little less traditional with this recipe for Southwestern Teff Burgers from the Washington Post.    

PHOTO: via flickr


Read all articles by Juniper Briggs

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