Teff is a gluten-free whole grain that's starting to get more attention these days. And for good reason: these tiny grains pack a big nutritional punch since they're made up primarily of the bran and germ, where all the good-for-you stuff is. Mild and somewhat nutty in flavor, teff porridge makes a fantastic stand-in for oatmeal or Cream of Wheat any day of the week.
What Is Teff?
Teff is truly an ancient grain, having been cultivated first in Abyssinia and then in Ethiopia and Eritrea for thousands of years. It is considered to be among the first plants to be domesticated by human beings! It is still primarily grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea today, with some production in the United States, mostly in Idaho.
Teff is often ground into a flour (and most commonly used for making the popular, spongy Ethiopian flatbread injera), but it also delicious left whole and cooked into a porridge. This can be eaten warm at breakfast, just like oatmeal, and its nutty flavor also goes well with all the usual oatmeal toppings, like bananas or other fresh fruit, milk or milk alternatives, maple syrup and other sweeteners.
What Does Teff Taste Like?
The texture of the porridge is smooth and somewhat gelatinous, with the tiny teff grains providing a toothsome bite. Many people compare it to polenta and I think that's fair, although the grains are much smaller and more gritty. It can become gloppy as it cools or if it was cooked too stiff — I prefer to loosen the texture with additional hot water or milk.
While it's optional, I advise toasting teff in a dry skillet for 5 minutes or so before cooking it. This will highlight the grain's natural nuttiness.
Where Can I Find Teff?
You will likely find teff at larger natural foods stores and coops. Or you can order it online from places like Bob's Red Mill or The Teff Company.
Measure 1 cup teff to 3 cups water.
How To Cook Whole-Grain Teff Porridge
Makes about 3 cups
What You Need
1 cup teff
3 cup water
Pinch of salt
2-quart sauce pan
- Toast the teff (optional): Measure the teff into a frying pan and toast over low heat, stirring frequently. The teff will be done when you hear little pops and crackles, about 2 minutes.
- Add the water: Immediately transfer the toasted teff into a 2-quart sauce pan. Add the water and a pinch of salt and stir.
- Cook the teff: Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Check the teff at 15 minutes: all the water should be absorbed and the teff should be soft and almost creamy. Stir frequently, especially as the teff begins to thicken, to prevent burning.
- Rest the teff: When the teff is done, remove it from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.
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(Image credits: Dana Velden)