I just realized that I’ve been talking about injera for a while, but never posted anything about the main ingredient, teff flour, or more precisely about the grain teff.
Teff (ጤፍ ) or “Eragrostis tef” is an ancient grass that originated between 4000 BC to 1000 BC in Ethiopia and has been cultivated for centuries. The name teff means "lost" because grains spilled on the ground are so small that they are lost. Actually is the smallest grain in the world, so tiny that it takes 150 teff grains to equal a single grain of wheat.
It was first described in western literature by James Bruce, a Scottish travel writer that went to Africa to try to find the source of the Blue Nile.
It has many advantages over wheat and other grains. Nutritionally, teff consists mainly of bran and germ, and contains no gluten - a source of many food allergies. It’s ideal for people suffering from celiac disease. Teff is rich in calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium and thiamin, and is a good source of protein, amino acids (especially lysine), carbohydrates and fiber.
Teff may be used as a substituted for seeds, nuts or other small grains when baking, as a thickener for soups, stews, gravies and puddings, to make grain burgers, and in stir- fries and casseroles.
Animals seem to love teff too, specially horses, and it is also used to feed llamas and alpacas that sometimes have difficulty digesting hay.
It is now cultivated in the US too, particularly in Idaho. It’s a warm season annual grass that requires a frost free growing season and it has been lately used as a hay crop between alfalfa rotations here in the US. Very few disease and pest problems have been observed in the teff crops and it can be grown in most locations, without insecticides or fungicides.
It has some set backs, though. Since the grain is so small, it is difficult to harvest and later to convert into flour with the regular machinery used with other grains here in the US. Also some researchers in Ethiopia say that teff is one of the culprits of soil erosion in that country.
You don’t need to make injera to take advantage of the nutritional benefits of this grain, just add teff flour to regular wheat flour when baking. Since it has no gluten, if you use it alone, you should add some type of yeast.
I use teff when I make pizza, about 2/3 wheat flour and 1/3 teff flour and it tastes delicious, or if you prefer 50/50. Actually teff pizzas are the best I have ever tasted!
Injera is the first solid food that Ethiopian children eat and it is said that anemia is rare in Ethiopians that eat teff regularly since the grain is so rich in iron. It is so easy to digest for babies, that it’s ideal to make purées.
Bob’s Red Mill
True Foods Market
Garden Spot Distributors
Teff Co. Recipes
Versagrain Teff Recipes
Teff is blooming in the fields of northwest Kansas – The Ethiopian Reporter
Teff: Food Crop for Humans and Animals
Teff Grass (Eragrosttis Abyssinica): A Valuable Hay and Pasture Grass for Arid and Semi-Arid Tropical and Warm-Temperate Regions [ 1916 ] by Joseph Burtt-Davy
People Of The Plow: An Agricultural History Of Ethiopia, 1800-1990 by James C. Mccann
Plant Genetic Resources of Ethiopia by J. M. M. Engels, J. G. Hawkes, M. Worede.
Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa by Fran Osseo-Asare