Forget Oatmeal and Eat Teff Porridge Instead

January 17, 2016

Posie Harwood, who finds the best back-of-the-box recipes in the grocery store, calls 2016 the year of teff porridge.

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!

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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.

This year, try making teff porridge instead of oatmeal. If you're in the mushy food lovers camp (think hummus and rice pudding), you will certainly appreciate starting your day with this breakfast.  

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.

Teff Porridge with Pecans, Dates, and Honey

Adapted from Bob's Red Mill

Serves 4 

cup teff
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
tablespoons honey
1/4 cup pecans (or other nuts), preferably toasted lightly
1/4 cup cream, milk, or yogurt

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Posie Harwood 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lorissa
  • qktiles
  • Mary
  • jryvin
  • How's it Taste?
    How's it Taste?
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Lorissa January 24, 2016
Thx for mentioning it's like maltabella, now I know exactly what it is - yum! Will b a nostalgic exp to try it.
qktiles January 24, 2016
The summer 2015 issue of Lucky Peach had an article about the economics of the teff industry that is worth a read.
Mary January 19, 2016
I always think, when I an making this, that teff porridge is what the 3 bears made before Goldilocks ate it all up!
jryvin January 18, 2016
Otherwise know as Maltabella. A South African breakfast staple.
How's I. January 17, 2016
I'm a huge, huge fan of teff pancakes. Probably my favorite pancakes ever.
How's I. January 17, 2016
I mean, teff in general is great. Injera is awesome, so I would imagine teff porridge is right up there.
Sarah J. January 17, 2016
Please share your teff pancake recipe! Would love to try it!
How's I. January 18, 2016
Here it is - (I adapted it from this one- Most recipes I've seen that say "adapted from" are virtually identical to the original, but mine has some notable differences, so it's definitely worth comparing both.)

1 1/2 c teff flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
5 T sugar
3/4 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
2 eggs
1 c + 2 T buttermilk (approximately. adjust as necessary, but you want the batter to be fairly thick)
6 T neutral oil

Mix dry ingredients together thoroughly. Mix wet ingredients together thoroughly. Mix wet into dry, or vice-versa depending on your preferences.