Teff - A Gluten-free Whole Grain

Teff
Teff.

Wondering about teff? Read on for a definition of whole grain teff, including where to find it, how to cook it, and also a few teff recipes.

What is teff?

Teff is a whole grain, similar to other more familiar whole grains such as barley, ​wheatberries, and quinoa. It's gained new popularity recently on the heels of other increasingly popular so-called "ancient grains" such as freekeh and quinoa. Unlike most whole grains, teff is a gluten-free grain suitable for most celiacs and those with gluten intolerance or just anyone trying to reduce the amount of gluten that they eat.

While American kitchens and gluten-free cooks are just beginning to discover teff, it has been a staple of Ethiopian cuisine for generations. If you've ever had a meal at an Ethiopian restaurant, it was likely served to you on a soft, pliable and sponge-like flatbread called "injera", which is made from teff.

See also: 8 healthy whole grains you should try

Shopping for teff

Teff is easy to spot, since its dark color and tiny size makes it stand out amongst the other grains. It looks a bit like tiny flax seeds or brown poppy seeds when whole. You can find teff alongside the other whole grains (sometimes in the baking aisle or with other breakfast grains such as oatmeal) in most natural foods stores and in some well-stocked grocery stores. Unlike other whole grains, you are very unlikely to find teff in the bulk bins of natural foods stores. 

Cooking with teff

Each whole grain has a slightly different cooking process, and teff is no exception.

Teff can be prepared with as little as one cup of water for each cup of teff and up to 4 cups of water for each cup of teff. Unless you're looking for a creamy, porridge-like dish, most people recommend cooking teff in about 1 3/4 cups water for each cup of dry teff. If you want something more like a soft and creamy breakfast cereal, you'll want to add more water to get a softer texture.

 

To cook teff, simmer it for about 20 minutes, then fluff it with a fork, just like you would with quinoa or couscous.

One cup of dry whole grain teff will yield almost three cups when cooked, so plan accordingly!

Is teff healthy? What is the nutritional value of teff?

While quinoa is well-adored by vegetarians and vegans for its high protein content, vegetarians and vegans can love teff for its high calcium content. One cup of cooked teff contains a whopping 123 mg of calcium.

According to CalorieCount, 1/4 cup dry teff (about 3/4 cup cooked), has just 180 calories and 1 gram of fat, making it a low-calorie and nearly fat-free food.

Recipes using teff

Ready to give teff a try in your kitchen? Here's a few vegetarian and vegan recipes using teff: