Whole Teff porridge (C)

April 3, 2006 at 7:40 pm (breakfast, F (0 stars, inedible), Grains, Rebecca Wood)

I have a goal to try all the known grains, or at least all that I can get my hands on.

Teff is a teeny tiny chocolate brown grain that is most well-known for being the traditional grain that is used to make injera, the spongy fermented bread that is served at every Ethiopian restaurant.

Rebecca Wood in her cookbpok The Splendid Grain says she’s found no precedent for eating teff as a whole grain rather than ground to a flour, but that she serves it occasionally at very “adult” dinners. I tried her recipe for “steamed” teff which is really boiled teff, then you let it sit and “steam” afterwards.

1 cup whole tef
1 cup boiling water or stock
pinch of sea salt
gomasio for a garnish

Toast the tef in a hot skillet, stirring quickly, for 2 minutes, or until the sounds of popping grains is at its height. Pour the tef into a saucepan with boiling liquid, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 7 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with gomasio.

This is supposed to serve 2, but I thought it made 4 servings.

I’m not positive I followed the recipe correctly, because it turned out awful. The texture was like wet sand. So I looked on the web and they generally recommended adding much more water (3 to 1) and cooking it much longer (at least 20 minutes). With more water and another 20 minutes the teff turned into one large porridgey mass, which reminded me a lot of amaranth. The texture was similar since they both have all those tiny seeds, but the teff wasn’t quite as gooey, and the flavor was different. I thought the flavor was actually more mild than amaranth, and not unpleasant, but not exciting either.

I tried adding some cocoa powder and sweetener to the hot cereal. Blech. It was better plain with a little soymilk.

This morning I had it cold with soymilk and some Ezekiel-brand “grapenuts”. It was pretty nice. It seemed healthier than eating just grapenuts, but the addition of grapenuts gave it some much needed crunch. The textural contrast was quite enjoyable.

I’m definitely going to buy teff again and keep experimenting, but nothing I’ve tried so far has really excited me.

Nutritional Info for Teff

Teff Whole Grain (uncooked)
Serving Size 1/4 cup (45g)
Calories 160.00
Calories from Fat 5.00
Total Fat 1.00g
Saturated Fat 0.00g
Cholesterol 0.00mg
Sodium 10.00mg
Total Carbohydrate 33.00g
Dietary Fiber 6.00g
Sugars 0.00g
Protein 6.00g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 5%
Iron 13%

The vitamins and minerals are based on 1/2 cup Teff flour, which was a guess. The only grains I know of that have more iron are quinoa (3.6g for 160 calories), amaranth (3.3g for 160 calories), and wheat germ (2.8g for 160 calories). The web claims that Teff is a good source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, boron, phosphorous and potassium. Another cool thing about teff is that it is too small to remove the bran or germ, so when you’r eating teff you know you’re always eating a whole grain.

I’d like to try cooking with teff flour, and also using the teff like poppyseeds in baking.

Rating: C


  1. Shannon said,

    The main way I’ve used teff so far is by substituting about 1/4 of the flour into cookie and muffin recipes. Used this way, it has a lovely flavor! Slightly chocolatey and generally yummy.
    I also used to make a hot cereal, by starting with whole teff and grinding rather lightly in a coffee grinder–not too coarse, but not too fine. That’s pleasant, with a bit of salt, milk and honey.
    When I tried to make cereal by starting from the flour, it turned out with a texture more similar to pudding–but not a pudding flavor! But when I *began* with the intention of making it a pudding, and added some salt and sucanat before cooking, again it was pleasant. I’m meaning to experiment more, to make it a bit more exciting. I think adding coconut oil or cream while cooking might be nice too; maybe some ginger…. I haven’t tackled trying to make injera yet, but hope to do that soon!

  2. popslashgirl said,

    I made teff in plain water, a ratio of about 1 cup teff to four cups water, and cooked it for about 20-30 minutes. I flavored it with cinnamon and vanilla extract halfway through, and ate it with a drizzle of maple syrup. It turned out really nice, if sort of bland, but I mostly save it for sick days when I don’t want anything strong-flavored anyway.

    My only caution to a new teff cooker, a lesson learned from painful experience, is that even if you normally never pre-rinse before doing the dishwasher, do it now with anything that came in contact with the seeds. I was picking crusted-on teff grains off of my dishes for weeks! 🙂

  3. Rami said,

    Teff is wonderful! I have had great success with it. Here is how I do it:

    Pour two cups of unsweetened vanilla-flavored soymilk into a pot.
    The soymilk gives it a nice creaminess, but you can also try using rooibos tea instead. Water is just too boring…

    Add a couple of sprinkles of cinnamon powder and stevia (according to how sweet and cinnamony you’d like it to be)

    Bring to boil, then turn the burder down to low.

    Add goji berries, coconut shavings, raisins, dried currants, slivered almonds, pieces of walnuts and/or frozen (or fresh raspberries). Then add teff.

    Let it all simmer for 20 minutes. If you cook it less than 20 minutes, it might have a sandy consistency… So let the grains soften.

    Remember to stir at least once, about 15 minutes into it – to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom and burning.

    It’s absolutely delicious. I look forward to making it again!

    Good luck,


  4. captious said,

    Thanks for the recipe Rami. I’ll try it next time I get my hands on teff.

  5. Lisa Nissenbaum said,

    We often eat teff for breakfast. I use 2/3 cup teff grain, slice half a banana and a quarter apple of pear into it, stir in 1 and 1/3 cup water, a pinch of salt, a sprinkling of cinnamon into a microwave safe bowl. Then I microwave it for five minutes, stir again, microwave for 5 minutes. I then add 1/3 cup milk, microwave again for five minutes, and if it’s still pretty thick, I’ll do that one more time. It reminds me of eating wheatina as a kid!

    • captious said,

      Thanks Lisa for the recipe. If I can ever find some teff in Germany I’ll try it!

  6. Lisa Nissenbaum said,

    I also usually add 1/2 a sliced banana, a handful of raisins and a couple of dates. Yummy!

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