A Fun-Loving Guide to the Natural World for Kids and Adults


Rebecca and I have been experimenting with eating different grains, and are quickly realizing that here in the United States we’ve developed a pretty narrow viewpoint of grain. Here, wheat and oats rule. There’s nothing wrong with wheat and oats, both of which are quite yummy, but the more we explore, the more we discover that there is a whole planet’s worth of wondrous grains out there, all with different flavours and nutritional benefits. Our latest discovery was teff.

The most remarkable thing about teff is its size. It’s apparently the world’s smallest grain, as the carefully posed photo below displays.

We soon learned that teff is used to make one of our favorite flatbreads — injera — which we had often eaten at a favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the Twin Cities. The huge plate-sized flatbread is served with a variety of colorful bean, vegetable, or meat mixtures set in piles on its surface, and you eat by breaking off bits of the bread and using this as an edible ’spoon’ to eat the mixtures.

Teff comes in different colors — ours is a dark variety, which has a nutty flavor. We’ve only begun experimenting, thus far having had it only as a breakfast porridge, which was very delicious. We’re excited to discover new ways to use it.

Another wonderful thing about teff is that it’s a species of Lovegrass, and it’s always nice to eat something that has such a ‘lovely’ name. It’s a very important grain in Ethiopia, and it’s interesting to think that even a tiny pouch of this grain would be enough to sow an immense field. It’s also highly nutritious.

We’d encourage people to give this grain a try, and if anyone has any good recipes for using teff, feel free to post them on the comments below!

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9 Responses to “Teff”

  1. What an interesting subject. . I’ve never heard of Teff. I’ll have to give it a try!

  2. Hi Shawna!

    Do let us know if you try it — we’d love to get some opinions or ideas about how to use it =)

  3. from what i understand (thanks primarily to michael pollan) here in the US, corn rules. perhaps more indirectly, as it figures into livestock feed, and just about every processed food. but, being in wisconsin, you are no doubt surrounded by fields of it.

    that said, i’m heartened by all the alternative grains that have become available. i like quinoa a lot. but, teff you say? yeah, i’ve had those tasty flatbreads. i look forward to trying to create with it myself. thanks!

  4. Hello Mark,

    Not sure why we didn’t think of corn! As you noted, we’re surrounded by it. And we totally agree with your take on quinoa — as well as the many other amazing grains you can find at the local co-op. Yum!

  5. Oooh how curious!! I’ll ask around and see if I can get my hands on this in Dublin. We’ve got small but vital African community here so that may be a good place to start looking.

    It’s a beautiful synchronisity that you should write about a grain at this time. Last week, me and my wife went to see an Ayurveda specialist and she adviced us both to eat more grain and voila - here you are, sharing the inspiration! I love how these things work :)

    We know that we should expect stronger fluctuations in climate in the coming years and decades and this being the case, filling entire continents with a handful of high-produce crops is a recipe for disaster; diversity is key to survival. Since most of our food is controlled by big-corp, it’s clearly up to us consumers to demand a wider range of foods rather than waiting for someone to do it for us. I guess what I want to say is that by eating Teff and spreading the word, you are literally saving humanity from itself. What’s even cooler is that saving humanity is both fun and tasty! :D

    I stumbled on this interesting TED talk on crop diversity a while back and I think you’d like it: http://tinyurl.com/yk6×7u8

    PS. On the topic of Corn: whereas Corn is the most widely grown crop in the states, it’s not a grain as such. Surprisingly, it’s a grass!

  6. Hello Magnus,

    Thanks for the great comment! More on the corn debate, and we LOVE the comment that ’saving humanity is both fun and tasty!’ =)

    Also that link is great — thanks for adding it. You’ve made a great point in that as we experiment with new foods, we encourage the diversity you talk about. The synchronisity was great, too. Great to see you here!

  7. It’s interesting that you bring this topic up. Jenn and I dug our bread machine out of storage a couple months ago and had begun experimenting with different types of bread. I did some research online and found that teff is the most nutritious grain out there. So I tried this Injeri recipe and found that it’s really good. A bit sour of a taste for me, but still very basic and very, very good for you. Hope all is well with you guys.


    The batter, which solely consists of ground teff and water, must ferment prior to cooking. I found the recipe upon which this is based at http://www.angelfire.com/ak/sellassie/food/injera.html, a good source for other information on how to serve the finished product.

    Servings: 10 people

    Ingredients1.5 cups ground teff (180 g)

    2 cups water

    salt, to taste

    vegetable oil, for the skillet
    Preparation1. Mix ground teff with the water and let stand in a bowl covered with a dish towel at room temperature until it bubbles and has turned sour; This may take as long as 3 days, although I had success with an overnight fermentation; The fermenting mixture should be the consistency of a very thin pancake batter.

    2. Stir in the salt, a little at a time, until you can barely detect its taste.

    3. Lightly oil an 8 or 9 inch skillet (or a larger one if you like); Heat over medium heat.

    4. Pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the skillet; About 1/4 cup will make a thin pancake covering the surface of an 8 inch skillet if you spread the batter around immediately by turning and rotating the skillet in the air; This is the classic French method for very thin crepes; Injera is not supposed to be paper thin so you should use a bit more batter than you would for crepes, but less than you would for a flapjack pancakes.

    5. Cook briefly, until holes form in the injera and the edges lift from the pan; Do not let it brown, and don’t flip it over as it is only supposed to be cooked on one side.

    6. Remove and let cool. Place plastic wrap or foil between successive pieces so they don’t stick together.

  8. Hey Bear!

    We’ve been wanting to try this — now we know someone who has! Thanks for including the recipe.

    Great to hear from you — maybe we’ll need to see if we can make injera over the campfire sometime =)

  9. Hello there!

    We import fresh 100% teff injera direct from Ethiopia. Located in Washington, DC, we are proud to be a part of this business. As you indicated, it is one of the healthiest grains in the world!

    Caution on Gluten: At the moment, there are very limited Ethiopian restaurants in the us that serve 100% pure Teff injera. You find a different variety mixed with other grains. We’re also expermenting with different forms to feature to the Western Market. Hope you check us out.



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