|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
Borana: tafi, thafi English: teff Gabra: tafi
Description: A small grass usually to 0.6 m high. FLOWERS: Inflorescence white or brown. FRUITS: Seeds small, ovoid, about 0.5-1.0 mm long, brown or white (cream) in colour.
Ecology: Teff is an almost exclusively Ethiopian cereal but in Kenya it is popular among the Boran groups and people of Ethiopian origin. Grows wild and also widely cultivated in the Ethiopian highlands. Occasionally cultivated on a small scale in the Marsabit and Moyale highlands, 1,000-2,500 m (in Kenya). Rainfall: 650-900 mm. Introduced further south for experimental purposes in agricultural research stations (Katumani, Kitale, Muguga). Also introduced in Lesotho and South Africa as a fodder crop.
Uses: FOOD: A traditional grain crop of the Oromo groups of people including the Boran. Grain is ground to flour (traditionally, stones are used for grinding) which may be used in the preparation of an Ethiopian bread (known as injera in Ethiopia and anjera by the Boran), porridge and cakes. Injera is made by fermenting dough for about three days. A handful of the fermented dough is put in hot water which is then used to prepare more dough. This is poured on a large hot plate up to 60 cm across and a pancake made. Anjera (Boran) is served with meat stew (often spiced) or vegetables on large, shallow plates. The grain may be eaten alone. There is a cream type of grain and a brown type which has a similar but slightly bitter taste.
COMMERCIAL: Grain and flour are traded locally in northern Kenya. The cream type is tastier and more valued than the brown. The grain is sold in the purely brown or purely cream forms but mixtures with varying proportions of the two are more common, the price charged being a reflection of the ratio of the two.
Management: In Ethiopia, land is ploughed up to three times between April and August. Seeds are usually sown by broadcasting but may also be sown in lines. Harvesting is done in November-December. Weeding is usually done once. The two cultivars (cream and brown) are hard to separate once mixed. For this reason the grain is often seen in varying mixtures of the brown and the cream seeds. Harvesting: Traditionally the grain is cut from the field and spread in a clean, usually round, clearing. The grain is separated from the heads on the stalks by driving oxen several times over the pile. Forked sticks are used to remove the stalks. The seeds are separated from the chaff by winnowing (usually with a wooden spade).
In Ethiopia teff is grown only once in a year. Heavy rain, especially when the grain has formed, spoils the teff. This, together with frequent droughts, has been a main cause of the famines in Ethiopia in recent years.
Remarks: Teff is an old and locally important crop of the Ethiopian communities but little known outside the country. Injera is the staple food of some communities, especially in north-western, central and southern Ethiopia. It is a common food in Ethiopian restaurants throughout the world.