Teff: curiosities, recipes, pros and cons of the “new superfood

How to cook teff? This pseudo-cereal is considered a superfood. All the pros, cons, curiosities and recipes

How to cook teff? This pseudo-cereal is considered a superfood. All the pros, cons, the curiosities and recipes

Have you ever heard of the teff? It is a small seed used like a cereal, rich in properties and which is slowly making its way onto the health food market.


What is teff?

Teff is an ancient seed that belongs to the Graminaceae family. Even if very small, it is used like millet, spelled and other types of cereals. The seed that we find today retains the characteristics of the one of the past, in fact it has not undergone transformations or hybridization.

It is particularly widespread in African cuisine and it is used little in other areas of the world even if the interest in foods that come from afar and boast interesting properties is increasing in recent years even in our latitudes. The West is in fact always on the hunt for new "superfoods" and for this reason also teff begins to spread outside its places of origin.

Exists white and red teff which, apart from the color, do not differ much in terms of properties. The taste of this seed recalls that of amaranth and quinoa but also of walnuts.

Teff, pros and cons

Undoubtedly teff offers many benefits to our body. From a nutritional point of view, in fact, it is rich in minerals and vitamins (especially group B) and the quantity of these substances is greater than in modern wheat. The presence of calcium in particular stands out, which we know is very important for bone health, but also of magnesium and fiber.

Despite its small size, this cereal offers interesting doses of complex carbohydrates and it is a good source of protein and fiber. Among other things, teff seeds are low in fat and therefore also recommended for those on a diet. They also help the work of the intestines and have prebiotic action.

Another advantage that the consumption of teff offers is to be gluten free and therefore we can advise those with celiac disease to better vary their diet, avoiding necessarily "gluten free" foods and rediscovering an ancient grain with many properties. Of course, the consumption of teff is suitable for everyone, it can be alternated with other cereals with and without gluten to have a varied and never monotonous diet. Finally, it is a food easily digestible and with low glycemic index, therefore a good choice for diabetics and for all people who need to keep blood sugar levels under control

They also exist some "against" of this food, primarily the taste not appreciated by everyone, especially when compared to modern refined grains and reduced to flour. Even the consistency of the seeds, similar to amaranth, is not always easy to use to make healthy dishes that are also tasty at the same time. In this regard, we suggest below some recipes not only based on teff but also on flour made with these seeds.

Then there is a problem of difficult product availability, especially in small towns, even if online purchases can now solve the problem. The cost then it is not for all budgets, 350 grams of teff flour have prices starting from around 4 euros, while teff in grains (500 grams) costs over 6 euros.

In summary, teff is:

  • Rich in minerals and vitamins
  • Good source of vegetable protein
  • Low in fat
  • Rich in fiber
  • Easily digestible
  • It is gluten free
  • It has a low glycemic index
  • It has a prebiotic function

The cons that presents this cereal are:

  • Taste and texture not always appreciated
  • Difficult to find
  • high cost

Teff, curiosity

The name of this seed is not accidental. teff it means in fact "lost", this refers to the fact that when the semen is collected in the hands since it is really very small (we are talking about less than 1 millimeter) it tends to escape and therefore to get lost.

And if you think you haven't eaten Teff, you may be wrong. In the Ethiopian or Eritrean restaurants, in fact, teff flour is used to create that sort of spongy bread that is used as a base to collect inside the foods to be consumed (strictly with the hands) with the help of a piece of this original focaccia known with the name of injera. The fermented teff flour which gives a sour aftertaste to the preparation.

Teff in the United States is considered a "superfoods"Especially in a particular category, that of runners, who appreciate this cereal as it is light, easily digestible but rich in amino acids, mineral salts and vitamins.

Teff, recipes

Teff in grains it can be eaten both raw and cooked. To cook it you can choose two systems: put one part of teff and two parts of water in such a way as to make it absorb all and not disperse the nutrients, or cook the seeds in boiling water and then drain them. Generally the teff will be ready in 15-20 minutes. It can be eaten with seasonal vegetables or used to prepare vegetarian pies, meatballs or burgers.

La flour alone or added to other types, it is used to prepare bread, pizza, crackers but also muffins and other desserts or as a thickener. Together with corn flour or even just with teff flour you can then prepare an original polenta.

They are a lot the recipes in which you can experiment with teff or the flour obtained from the seeds. We present some of them:

Teff burger

Teff is suitable for making vegetable burgers. The recipe that we present uses exclusively teff in grains, sesame oil, thyme, garlic and shallot. You can find it here and customize it by adding seasonal vegetables, for example.

Teff meatballs

With teff you can prepare vegetable meatballs by adding a little rice flour and accompanying them with seasonal vegetables. Here a very simple recipe to try.

Photo: macromagician.wordpress.com

Teff polenta

A special polenta can be made with teff seeds with a creamy consistency e lighter compared to the one that is prepared with corn. Here you can follow a step by step recipe.


If you want to try your hand at preparing injera, the spongy bread typical of Eritrea and Ethiopia, you must first let the teff flour ferment for a few days. Read how to do it here.

Pancakes of teff plants

Pancakes can be made with teff flour ideal for breakfast to be filled with jam, maple syrup or other. Here you will find a recipe enriched with other gluten-free flours and apples.

Photo: mirtilliacolazione.com

Teff cookies

If you want to try some teff-based cookies just combine teff flour, eggs, sugar, seed oil and rice starch. Find a recipe for tasty teff cookies here.

Photo: nonnapaperina.com

We also suggest you try the recipes with amaranth by replacing that cereal with teff. In fact, they are very similar in terms of texture and taste and are easily interchangeable.

To discover the properties of other cereals or pseudocereals alternatives to wheat see also:

  • Buckwheat
  • Oats
  • Mile
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa Salad
  • Farro
  • Orzo

Where to find teff

Teff can be found both in grains (i.e. seeds) and in the form of flour. It is not always easy to buy it because still not very widespread, but almost all organic food stores well supplied, they now keep it on the shelves together with other types of cereals or pseudocereals. The alternative is to buy online, also in this case it is possible to find both the seeds to be used as they are and the flour. Sometimes it is also found in herbalist's shops or in shops dedicated to gluten-free nutrition.

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