What is Teff Grain?

Teff is another ancient grain that is very popular in parts of Africa, Ethiopia in particular and also in India and Australia. Teff is the grain used to make the staple injera bread, eaten in so much of Ethiopia.

If you are a fan of Ethiopian food as I am, then you have eaten this bread in a restaurant, because it is a part of every meal for them. I am including a recipe to make your own at the end of this article.

It is also a gluten free grain so beginning to gain in popularity in the USA as well.

What is Teff Grain

Properties of Teff Grain

Teff is the smallest grain in the world, measuring only about 1/32 of an inch in diameter and taking 150 grains to weigh as much as one grain of wheat. 

Its name is thought to come from the amharic word teffa which means “lost” because of its small size and how easily it is lost if dropped. 

Because it is so small most of the grain is the bran and germ and so it is very nutrient denseThis grain has a very high calcium content, and contains high levels of phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin.

It also has high lysine levels, an amino acid, which helps the body absorb calcium.   Teff is high in protein (higher than wheat, barley or rice flour), carbohydrates, and fiber.

Baking With Teff

Teff is excellent for gluten free baking because it contains twice the protein of rice flour and it is a gluten free grain that actually offers structure to the baked goods.  It is soft and will make baked goods light and airy with a chewy crust on the outside.

It is mildly sweet and will add some moisture to the baked goods as well.  It is one of the better grains for those who need to do egg free baking.  It can also be cooked like rice or used to thicken soups and stews.

Teff comes in two colors: light and dark.  The darker variety has a nuttier flavor and is easier to find.  The lighter color has a milder flavor that is more reminiscent of chesnuts.

In the 1800's it seems that the wealthier folks consumed the lighter grain and the servant class more of the darker color.
Injera Bread

This recipe is adapted from Versa Grain.

Ethiopian Injera Bread


1 1/2 cups ground teff (or teff flour) (buy it here)

2 cups water

1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)

butter or oil for the skillet


    In a small storage container, thoroughly mix teff with the water. Cover with an airtight lid and allow to ferment overnight or longer at room temperature. It could take as long as 3 days. It is ready when it has the consistency of thin pancake batter , bubbles, and has a sour taste to it.

    Slowly stir salt into fermented batter.

    Lightly oil a skillet (8 inches or larger)(or a larger one if you like) and heat over medium-heat.

    Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the bottom of the skillet. Then spread it around by turning and rotating the skillet in the air (like a crepe). The batter should be thicker than crepes but thinner than pancakes (so adjust poured amount accordingly).

    Only cook on one side. It is done when holes form on the top and the edges begin to separate from the pan (this may take several minutes). Leave it alone but do not let it brown.

    Remove and allow to cool. To prevent injera pieces from sticking together, place plastic wrap between each piece.

    To serve, place one injera on a plate and top with your main dish or break off pieces and scoop up your main dish when eating. In Ethiopia it is often served with a spicy chicken recipe.


For more information:

Whole Grains: Teff

The Essential Gluten Free Baking Guide by BrittanyAngeli and Iris Higgins.

Shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday,   Weekly Cultured Gathering,  and Wellness Wednesday.


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Jennifer Dages
Jennifer is a happily married homeschooling mother of 4 who lives in small town Pennsylvania. She blogs at The Entwife's Journal and at Purposeful Nutrition. She is also an RN who is working to build a health business through blogging, speaking, and health coaching.
Jennifer Dages

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3 thoughts on “What is Teff Grain?

  1. I’m curious why you do not let it brown? I often cook my things so they are very brown as I feel they have more flavor. Thanks!

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