Great Grains: Teff the Micro Grain from Ethiopia

The Un-Brownie: Teff Almond-Date Bars (Recipe after the jump)


Although this may look like a brownie, it is anything but. Full of dates and almonds, sweetened with maple and barley malt syrups, these bars contain a mysterious, crunchy secret ingredient.  That secret ingredient is the smallest of whole grains, teff. Teff has been cultivated in Ethiopia for millennia, but is still under-appreciated outside the Horn of Africa, even though it’s now grown in places as far afield as India, South Africa, Australia, and closer to home, Idaho. If you’ve ever eaten in an Ethiopian restaurant, you’ve no doubt tasted injera, the Ethiopian crepe-like bread made with teff flour.

I like to use teff in the whole-grain form, which you’ll find in well-stocked natural food stores as either white or dark brown tiny seeds (Bob’s Red Mill sells teff online). Using whole grains in baking powers up the nutritional value, because grains when broken, as when flour is ground, begin to oxidize, while unbroken grains keep their nutrients more intact. Those nutrients include a balance of eight essential amino acids, protein, calcium and iron. Although teff contains a sort of gluten, reportedly, it does not pose a problem to people with celiac’s disease. So, try whole grain teff as a cooked breakfast cereal, or as an addition to bread, pancakes, muffins, cookies or bars. When substituting teff for flours, nuts or seeds, keep in mind that because teff is so small, it is dense for it’s volume, so you need to use less. My recipe for these crunchy teff bars is after the jump.


Teff, originally a type of grass, well before harvest time.



Dry ingredients:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1  cup whole grain brown teff

3/4 cup chopped roasted almonds (or nut of choice)

1/4 cup carob powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:

1 cup (packed) chopped, pitted dates (or dried fruit of choice)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 barley malt syrup

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup water

1. Thoroughly mix together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

2. Put the dates along with 1/2 cup of the water in a food processor and process until the dates are chopped and partly dissolved. Pour the food processor contents and the remaining water and other wet ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk together well.

3. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir well to combine.

4. Pour into an oiled 9-inch square (or similar-sized)  baking pan and bake in a 350º F oven 30 minutes or until the bars test done.

5. Cool before cutting into 12 or 16 squares.

Variation: Add 1/2 cup carob chips or drizzle melted carob chips over the top when the bars come out of the oven.


Whole grain teff appears as tiny white or, in this case, brown seeds.

4 responses

  1. These ‘un-brownies’ are SO yummy!!! They have a wonderful texture, and I imagine that comes from the teff. Thank you, Gary, for the great information on teff, and the equally wonderful photos!

  2. OK, yes I plan to try this – but have to plan ahead –
    3-5 days for the starter! My wife told me to
    go to Queen of Sheba restaurant first, which has authentic Ethiopian food, to eat their injera, since I
    have never eaten or tasted it before.

    Good luck

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