Teff, Small But Versatile
Teff is a grass native to northern Ethiopia and is a form of lovegrass. Its scientific name is eragrostis tef. Teff comes from the Aphasic word “tiff” which means, “lost”, referring to the small size of the grain.
It has been used in Ethiopia for thousands of years and has been found in a pyramid dating back to 3356 BC. It has only recently become popular in English speaking countries. It accounts for about ¼ of the cereal production in Ethiopia. It’s used in Ethiopian cuisine mainly in injera, bread similar to naan in India.
It is one of the smallest grains in the world. It takes 150 grains to weigh as much as one grain of wheat. It is very high in nutrients and can be used in smaller quantities than other grains. ½ cup is equal to 1 cup of sesame seeds.
It comes in a wide range of colors including ivory, deep brown, and “purple”. At one point, royalty ate the white, soldiers and nobles ate the brown and the poor ate the purple. It has a mild, nutty flavor. The white teff has a chestnut like flavor while the darker ones are earthier in taste like hazelnuts.
Teff is high in dietary fiber, iron protein and calcium. It also contains significant levels of phosphorus, magnesium, aluminum, iron, zinc, boron and barium. It is also gluten free. It is higher in lysine than wheat and contains all eight of the essential amino acids.
It can be ground into flour and used in baking. It can also be eaten whole; steamed, boiled or baked. It is similar to quinoa in cooking but cooks faster because it is so small.
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