You may or may not have heard of Teff flour – I have on and off, but wasn’t quite sure what it was or where it came from – so I decided to do a little investigation
TEFF is an ancient grain and one of the smallest grains found in Ethiopia. Imagine: it takes about 150 Teff seeds to equal the weight of a single wheat kernel. It is the main ingredient used to make Injera flat bread.
Reasons Teff flour is starting to trend on a global basis:
The popularity of Teff flour appears to be increasing thanks to its distinct nutritional characteristics. It is rich in calcium, iron and zinc. In addition to this it is gluten free, which makes it desirable in the use of celiac diets. In Britain, Teff is attaining NHS status thanks to these qualities.
Traditionally, Teff is used to make Injera which is a kind of thin crumpety flat bread made in Ethiopia and used as an eating utensil. In some cases it even acts as an edible table cloth which is consumed at the end of the meal. Because of its lack of gluten, Teff is not suitable for making leavened bread, in other words, bread that plumps up. However, fermentation does give it a unique bubbly texture and flavour which is reminiscent to sourdough.
Teff, as a crop in Ethiopia has an export ban. As I understand this is because the Ethiopian government does not want its staple crop price sky rocket through the roof and make it unaffordable to its people who rely on it. Ethiopians abroad have learned to modify their Injera recipes by substituting Teff with wheat, along with other low gluten flours. Countries increasingly interested in growing Teff are Australia, Spain and USA
Making Injera is pretty much like making pancakes, a batter mixture which is cooked on a a heavy based pan like a griddle or cast iron skillet. You only place a very thin coating of batter on the pan, no thicker than a crepe, definitely not as thick as your usual pancake. Bubble will rise to the surface and once this is dry then the Injera bread will be ready.
As I didn’t have Teff flour on hand, I experimented with low gluten (spelt flour) and non gluten chickpea flour which seemed to work pretty well (as featured in the photo above). Let me know if you are interested and I will post my recipe 🙂