#BlackHistoryEats / Day 16 / Teff

Source: Flickr: Shauna James Ahern

Source: Flickr: Shauna James Ahern


  • Teff (Eragrostis tef), also known as tef, Williams lovegrass, annual bunch grass, and taf is one of the oldest African grains and is thought to have originated in 4000 BC. It has been a staple in the Ethiopian diet for centuries.
  • It is said that teff comes from the Amharic word "teffa" which means "lost" because it is can easily be lost as it is the tiniest grain in the world
  • Teff is extremely drought and flood resistance, making it a perfect crop for the East African highlands. This also means that it can be difficult to successfully grow in other places. Black farmers in Kansas have recently experimented with growing teff for forage (for livestock) and eventually for grain. 
  • Most of the teff eaten in the West is grown in Indian, Australia, Netherlands, and Idaho. The Ethiopian government has (wisely!!) banned farmers for exporting teff so that it still remains affordable in Ethiopia (and doesn't face the same fate as quinoa). 


  • Teff is a wonderful source of protein, complex carbohydrates, and minerals like iron, calcium and potassium.  
  • It also contains lysine, an essential amino acid that is not found in all whole grains. 
  • As with all whole grains teff is a good source of dietary fiber
  • Teff is naturally gluten-free


  • Teff is the preferred grain of choice for making the delicious Ethiopian sourdough bread called injera (sometimes alternatively spelled enjera). Traditionally, it is used in place of a spoon or fork to eat anything from lentils to wot (Ethiopian stew)
  • Here is video of Ethiopian woman describing how to make injera! In making injera, teff is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days; this gives it the sour/tangy flavor