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Come January 1, there's no shortage of predictions for the new year's upcoming trends. There's also no shortage of talk about healthy, nourishing foods. Couple those two together, and imagine my surprise when teff porridge doesn't show up anywhere!
If there were ever a candidate for the newest food obsession, teff porridge is it. As a lover of breakfast, of oatmeal, of pudding, and of mushy foods, I went a tiny bit weak in the knees upon tasting this dish for the first time. It's like the more exotic cousin of Cream of Wheat, or what Cream of Wheat would become if it went off to college and started going to parties and listening to cool indie bands.
Teff is a tiny grain, smaller than a poppy seed, which has been cultivated for centuries in Ethiopia. If you've ever tasted injera, the stretchy bread served with Ethiopian food, then you've had teff flour.
Teff has a nutty, earthy flavor and a texture similar to polenta when cooked. Toasting the grain in butter first adds even more flavor. Although it's flavorful on its own, porridge made from teff is just as versatile as oatmeal. You could just add salt and butter and keep it savory, or add your favorite oatmeal ingredients: brown sugar, nuts, dried fruits, spices, and so on. I like teff porridge with maple syrup. I like it with miso and butter and a generous pinch of sea salt. I like it with Parmesan cheese and sesame seeds. It's very good with tahini and jam. My all-time favorite add-in for teff porridge is heavy cream. Do you see where I'm going with this? You can't go wrong.
For your first foray into the world of teff porridge, follow this recipe as written. It comes from the back of the teff bag, and the rich sweetness of the dates and the nuts pair perfectly with the teff. Once you fall in love (and you will!), branch out and experiment. Please tell me what combinations you like! I'm always looking for new breakfast inspiration.
No offense, oatmeal: You've served and nourished us well in the past. But I think I'll be using up the rest of mine in a big batch of oatmeal cookies, and reserving breakfast for a teff party.
Adapted from Bob's Red Mill
1 cup teff
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup pecans (or other nuts), preferably toasted lightly
1/4 cup cream, milk, or yogurt
Photos by Posie Harwood