ALL ABOUT TEFF
Teff [Eragrostis tef] is the only fully-domesticated member of the genus Eragrostis (lovegrass). Its name is often assumed to be related to the word “lost” in Amharic – because of the tiny size (less than 1mm diameter – similar to a poppy seed) of its seeds.
This tiny size, in fact, makes teff ideally suited to semi-nomadic life in areas of Ethiopia and Eritrea where it has long thrived. (The photo to the left shows teff being harvested in Ethiopia.) 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.
Teff can grow where many other crops won’t thrive, and in fact can be produced from sea level to as high as 3000 meters of altitude, with maximum yield at about 1800-2100m high. This versatility could explain why teff is now being cultivated in areas as diverse as dry and mountainous Idaho and the low and wet Netherlands. Teff is also being grown in India, Australia and Canada.
Growing in the fields, teff appears purple, gray, red, or yellowish brown. Seeds range from dark reddish brown to yellowish brown to ivory.
Teff is hard to find, but I have it available at the Farmer’s Market for just $ 3.oo/pound. It is fun to cook with and I’ll include some interesting recipes in the coming posts.
Teff Porridge with Honey and Dates Recipe
Makes: 4 to 6 servings (about 4 cups)
Plain porridge can be so boring, but change up the grain and it’s a whole new ball game. Most commonly seen as the main ingredient in injera (fermented Ethiopian flatbread), teff is packed with iron and calcium. If you don’t have 3 days to make your own injera, enjoy teff in a quick porridge full of nuts and dried fruit or anything else you would throw in your morning oatmeal.
The porridge will start to firm up as it sits. If it gets too firm, just mix in some warm water or milk until the desired consistency is achieved.
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup teff
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
- 1/3 cup hulled, unsalted, raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Heat water in a medium saucepan over high heat. When it boils, add teff and whisk to thoroughly incorporate. Reduce heat to low and cover.
- Simmer, whisking occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed and the teff is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered.
Heat butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add pumpkin seeds and cook until seeds begin to pop and butter just begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately add seeds and butter to the cooked teff, add remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Serve immediately.