Teff is a wild grass grown expansively in the temperate highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea and a staple grain like food used widely in diets these countries. Teff has a stellar nutritional profile – rich in fibre, calcium and importantly high levels of iron, which make it an invaluable nutrient for Ethiopian women, who according to a study in the Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, are commonly iron deficient.
Unlike wheat, Teff is gluten free and a highly digestible fibrous grain, ideal for coeliac sufferers and makes a great alternative to rice or quinoa. It also contains all 9 essential amino acids making it complete plant protein, of which is essential for cellular growth and repair and key to helping regulate blood sugar levels. This tiny powerhouse of a grain has a similar texture to quinoa or couscous and cooking it correctly is key to producing a nice bite.
In my local area, we have a small but thriving east African community that makes sourcing teff quite easy in a few local supermarkets. You can now also find teff grain in good health stores such as Planet Organic, or the Dove’s Farm brand teff is available at Waitrose.
Combining this subtle, nutty grain with exotic aromas from around the globe can make a beautiful dish. For this recipe, I have looked to bring out the simple flavour of the teff by using ginger, chilli, coriander and onions. Onions are often overlooked as a nutritious food due to the perhaps less exotic image they have; however onions are a powerful dietary liver support, containing phytochemicals that may help support hepatic cells to upregulate enzymes involved with detoxification. Red onions also contain useful levels of the flavonoid quercetin that produces its distinctive red hue and therapeutically, research has suggested that quercetin may have positive effects on insulin.
Choosing milder fresh chillies means that you can add colour and an exciting flavour without it being too eye watering and I love using warming fresh root ginger for the anti-inflammatory properties it contains. To finish, I drizzle a little cold organic olive oil to add to the taste and texture and to also provide important essential fatty acids that remain intact, as they are not heated. Remember to use olive oil in a dark bottle or tin as clear bottles allow light in and this damage the integrity of the fats.
Teff with Coriander, Ginger & Red Chilli
Ingredients (serves 2)
100g Teff grain
2 teaspoons of finely chopped root ginger
Half a mild red chilli, finely chopped and seeded
2 teaspoons of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of reduced salt,organic vegetable bouillon
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of raw coconut oil
1 teaspoon of organic extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of Himalayan pink salt
a pinch of ground black pepper
How to prepare
1. Add the teff to a pan and cover with 200g of filtered water.
2. Bring to boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes with the lid partially on
3. Transfer the cooked teff to a bowl or plate and leave to air
4. Add the coconut oil to a wok or pan and set under a low heat.
5. Add the onions, garlic and fry until clear
6. Add the ginger and half of the chilli and fry for a further 3 minutes
7. Add the teff and gently mix the ingredients under the heat for 3 minutes
8. Turn heat off and add the rest of the chilli and the coriander and drizzle the olive oil over it.
*Originally posted on Stand 7