Thursday, April 2, 2009

Teff - Another Gluten-Free Wheat Alternative

image courtesy of

Teff is definitely not a new food! It is said to have originated in Ethiopia between 4000 B.C. and 1000 B.C. Teff seeds were discovered in the ruins of the Dassur Egyptian Pyramid which was built in 3359 B.C.

Smallest Grain in the World!

Teff is one of the smallest grains in the world. The grain is 1/32 of an inch! Actually, "Teff" means "Lost" in Ethiopian because if you drop it on the ground, you'll never find it!

Teff is an annual grass with very tiny seeds that have a nutty flavor. There are three types of teff: white, brown and red. White teff tastes a little like chestnuts and can only be grown in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia. The flour is used to make injera, a flat bread that is used by most Ethiopians. Brown teff tastes a little like hazelnuts and can be used like oatmeal. It's also used to make alcohol in Ethiopia. Red teff is the least expensive and isn't used as much, but it is very high in iron.

Why is Teff Healthy?

Teff grains consist primarily of the bran and germ. Since the bran and germ are the most nutritious part of any grain, this makes teff extremely nutrient dense. Teff is an excellent source of amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Teff also has a high calcium content and ounce for ounce, it supplies more fiber than any other grain. There are 15.3 grams of fiber per 4 ounces of flour). Other important nutrients found in teff are iron, phosphorous and thiamin. Since teff is gluten free, it can be used safely by people with celiac disease.

How to Use Teff

Teff can be found as a grain and in flour form. You can find it in most health food stores, in ethnic food stores and online. It can be stored in an airtight container or can be refrigerated for longer storage.

Teff can be used in baked goods, pancakes, as a thickener in soups and stews, in casseroles and even in stir fry dishes.

For leavened bread, use whole wheat flour with up to 20% teff flour.

To cook teff, put 1/2 cup teff and 2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it stand covered for 5 minutes.

Once teff is cooked, it can even be used to make vegetarian burgers.


angela@spinachtiger said...

I've just mastered quinoa and have posted a few dishes where I've toasted it. Now I"ll have to try teff. I'll let you know how it fares. I like these ancient grains.

Carolyn said...

I have to admit, while I'm a whole grain girl, I have not tried this one. Let me know how it goes!