Have you heard of teff? This tiny unassuming whole grain has quickly become one of our favorite things to eat for breakfast. It started about a year ago as a casual flirtation with whole grains. My passing interest in the whole grain trend quickly turned into an expedition deep into whole grain territory when I decided to eliminate gluten from my diet. Using the marvelous cookbook, The Splendid Grain, as my guide into the mysterious world of whole grains, I ordered a bag of teff online. When the teff arrived I was amazed at the tiny size of each grain. It was almost like holding a bag of chestnut colored sand. In fact, teff is the smallest grain in the world. That’s right- it doesn’t get any smaller than this!

Why teff? Well because the grain is so tiny, you eat both the germ and the bran. This means that all the nutrients are super concentrated, giving you a lot more bang for your bite. One serving of teff will give you 7 grams of protein (more than an egg), 20% of your daily iron, and 10% of your daily calcium. Not bad for such a tiny grain!

Cooking with teff is easy. If you can handle making traditional oatmeal you can handle teff. We like to make big batches of both oatmeal and teff on the weekend and then simply reheat individual servings for a fast whole grain breakfast during the week. Trading off between the two helps eliminate breakfast boredom (oh the horror!).

Once cooked, teff has a consistency very similar to polenta. Thick, and almost gelatinous it clings to the pot and the spoon with vigor. The texture is probably the most unique aspect of teff, but if you can handle a bowl of polenta or corn grits then you are good to go. Mr. B likes to add a splash of milk to loosen his up while I prefer my porridge thick.

So what does teff taste like? I find that has a very pleasant nutty flavor, similar to warm almonds or toasted walnuts. Drizzled with honey, spiked with a dash of cinnamon, and topped with a few sticky dates a bowl of teff feels like an exotic yet strangely familiar breakfast. Not a bad way to start the week!

Basic Teff Porridge Print Recipe

Recipe Thumbnail

Adapted from Bobs Red Mill

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Water
  • 1/2 cup Teff
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 or 5 Dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Pecans or Almonds, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

Cooking Directions

Place a small heavy bottomed sauce pan with lid over medium-high heat. Bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir in the teff, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover the pan. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally and watching to make sure it does not bubble over. When the teff is done it will have a thick sticky consistency similar to warm polenta. Divide the teff into two bowls, top with dates and pecans. Drizzle the honey on top of each bowl and shake a little cinnamon on top to finish. Serve warm.
Re-heating Instructions: Teff will firm up into a solid mass when cold. You can even cut it in slices like a tube of polenta. To re-heat teff add about 1/4 cup of milk (almond is nice) per 1 cup of teff and heat for 1 minute in the microwave. Stir, and heat for an additional 30 seconds. The teff will loosen up and return to more of a porridge consistency.

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