Here’s the answer to the question from last week…

The crop is Tef / Teff which is a cereal grain native to the northern Ethiopian Highlands of Northeast Africa. It is used to make injera, the staple food of Ethiopia. It is now harvest time in Ethiopia so I will try to get some photos of that when it happens. Until then here’s some more information about this very interesting plant:

  • As you can see in the picture the grains are very small. The grains of teff are in fact so small that enough seeds to sow an entire field can easily be held in the hand or in a small bag, making teff an extremely portable crop, especially for semi-nomadic people.
  • The word comes from the Amharic language. Teff means “lost,” a reference to the fact that the grains are so small that dropped grains will be impossible to find.
  • Teff has been eaten by humans and animals for thousands of years, with botanists suspecting that teff may have been domesticated as early as 4,000 BC.
  • Teff accounts for about 25% of cereal production in Ethiopia, and is best farmed between 1800m and 2100m
  • The grain has a very mild, nutty flavor and is very nutritious. It is rich in protein, B vitamins, iron, fibre and calcium. White teff in particular, has an excellent balance of amino acids, and it is also high in protein, calcium, and iron. An inferior variety, red teff, has less nutritional value, although it is easier to cultivate.
  • To make injera, you mix finely-ground teff flour with water and cover it with a cloth for several days until it ferments and develops bubbles like those in pancake batter. Stirring in a little salt, it is then fried in a lightly oiled pan. Various meat and vegetables are served on the injera which is then torn off and eaten with the dishes.

You can find more information here.

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