In the first part of our course we studied different flour types and if you can recall, one of the varieties we touched on was Teff. While that might have been new information for most, the mention of teff brought up very fond memories for me — and salivating taste buds!
Eragrostis tef, or teff, is a species of lovegrass that is found predominantly in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Because of the grains’ versatility and ability to thrive in very difficult climates, it is used to make a staple bread in their cuisine called injera, a sourdough flatbread. Now I was born in Ethiopia but adopted by Canadians when I was a baby and one of the ways my parents used to keep in touch with my culture was food. It is my favourite food by far, the flavours are so rich and it is usually the go to choice for when my family goes out for supper. Because of this personal connection to teff, I wanted to explore further and learn more about this grain.
Teff is an ancient grain and it’s about the size of a poppy seed. It’s actually the smallest cereal grain in the world and comes in a variety of colours, ranging from white, red to dark brown. According to the Whole Grains Council (a panel of scientific and culinary advisors used to identify products with dietarily significant amounts of whole grains),
“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”.
For a quick comparison, just one pound of teﬀ seeds can grow an acre of teﬀ, while 100 pounds or more of wheat grains are needed to grow an acre of wheat.
Despite it’s size, the grains nutritional value cannot be dismissed. Because of it’s compact size, the grain is milled including the entire berry, within it the germ and endosperm where most of its nutrition is found. It is famous for its high fibre, calcium and iron content, significantly surpassing any other grain. In just 1/4 cup (45g) of uncooked teff there’s 24% of your daily fibre, 8% of your daily calcium and 20% of your daily iron levels.
Teff is also considered to be a gluten free grain. Due to it’s low glycemic index, teff is a safe grain that can be consumed by celiacs. Or those with a new, ahem, “lifestyle change”. 😉
Now that you’re a bit better acquainted with this ancient grain and all its benefits, my next post will show you the traditional way teff is used in Ethiopian and Eritrean culture.
If you’d like to learn more about this grain here’s a few sources that you can visit to do more research.