So Teff, that tiny and ancient super charged grain has been troubling me lately. For those of you that haven’t heard of it yet, (and don’t worry, there are a few of you still out there, but that will change soon) Teff is a grass seed that is a staple part of the Ethiopian and Eritrean diet. Its name is believed to be derived from the Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia) for lost; Teffa, due to its tiny size. Despite its diminutive size, Teff still provides two thirds of human nutrition in Ethiopia, mostly in the form of Injera, a fermented flat bread, or as a porridge. Teff is packed full of nutrients (think calcium, iron) colon friendly fibre and protein (about 14%). Most of this comes in the easy to digest albumen form, similar to egg white, so it a really good way to bump up the nutritional content of any meal. But, and I’m saving the best bit till last here, Teff is gluten free, Yes, that means you won’t get any fluffy white bread loaves from it, but it is a really good substitute if you or any of your family are following a gluten free diet.
In Ethiopia, Injera is used instead of plates or cutlery, which apart from anything else, is a probably a much more fun for kids and most adults to eat a meal. If you haven’t tried it, it has a mildly sour taste, which is not dissimilar to a continental sour dough type bread. It is quite time consuming to make because you have to leave the dough to ferment for several days, but you couldn’t call it labour intensive. That’s as far as the tips for injera will go from me though. I have tried to make it, and the results tasted good, but they certainly wouldn’t have won any beauty prizes. I’m not really sure if they would do the job that they were meant to either. Without doubt, you could rip them up and eat stuff off them, but let’s just say holding together wasn’t their strong point… Anyway, onwards and upwards. Not wanting to give in easily, (it is really good for you and very tasty) I thought I’d mess around and see if anything could be improved upon.
Then I had what I thought was a genius idea, (but I’m prepared to admit that if you are from Staffordshire in the UK or Ethiopia you might not see it that way) and thought that I’d use my Teff flour together with my oats when making Staffordshire Oatcakes. The recipe I have always used calls for equal quantities of oat flour to wheat flour, so I thought I’d just swap it and have a truly gluten free oatcake. I have always used whole meal flour in this recipe, and I had wholegrain Teff so I couldn’t see that it would make much difference. In Staffordshire, oatcakes are used to eat with the traditional bacon and eggs for breakfast, or topped with melted cheese, or just butter, so the principle isn’t that far removed from the Ethiopian version. We prefer them hot, but I’ll often have one as a wrap for lunch, but I do think that they need a bit of sauce, even if it just mayonnaise, if you are serving them that way. Finally, I do always end up making double this quantity. It doesn’t take much longer to make them, and if I’ve got all the stuff out, I’d rather end up having a batch I can freeze for lunches later. And a word of warning: don’t forget to take into account the percentage that you’ll have to sacrifice to the hangers on that magically appear when you are cooking these; they are delicious hot, straight out of the pan with a smear of butter.
Teff Oatcakes Recipe
240g Teff flour
240g oatmeal (you can always use porridge oats and blitz in the food processor)
2 tsp salt
7g dried yeast
425 ml water
425 ml milk
Mix together your dry ingredients, then gradually pour in the wet ones.
Leave to prove for an hour or so.
Cook as you would crepes/ pancakes, using a very hot pan, ever so slightly oiled.
When small bubbles appear on the surface, flip them over and cook briefly on the other side.
Keep warm on a plate wrapped in foil in a warm oven, or separate with cling film, or greaseproof paper and freeze to use later. They can be deforested and warmed up very quickly under a grill.
Top with a poached egg for a delicious healthy cooked breakfast, or go the whole hog and add some bacon too!