Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ethiopian Teff Vegetarian Stew...

Fall is in the air... and my mind is on soups and stews... I heard so many good things about teff and today I am cooking with it for the first time. Teff is the smallest grain in the world- a tiny whole grain that has been an important staple of Ethiopian traditional cooking for thousands of years. It is gluten-free with a mild nutty flavour, has a unique texture and packs a serious nutritional punch! Teff has an excellent balance of amino acids, and it is also high in protein, calcium, and iron. Whole grain teff is a great healthy addition to porridge, stews, pilafs or baked goods. Even add it when you're cooking Chinese rice- it doesn't compromise the taste and your kids won't know it's there. Ground into flour, teff is used to make the traditional bread, injera- a flat, fermented bread that complements the exotic spices found in the regional food. 

Here is an adapted recipe from the package recipe on Bob's Red Mill Teff. A true vegetarian stew with lots of vegetables and chickpeas to stand in for protein that is inspiring me to adopt a meatless Monday or weekday every once in a while. I loved it.. I hope this plants a seed of adventure in you to explore and discover new and different cultural ingredients!

Teff Vegetarian Stew
Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion or three shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. each paprika, ground cinnamon and ground all-spice
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional or add hot sauce at the table)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup teff
4 cups vegetable broth
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 medium each yellow and green zucchini, slices quartered
1 can (540 mL) chickpeas
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
chopped cilantro for garnish

Originated in Africa thousands of years ago, it comes in a variety of colour from white to red to dark brown.

Heat oil in a heavy 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about five minutes. Add garlic, spices and salt. Reduce heat to low and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Add teff and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until teff is soft, about 15 minutes.


Add vegetables and chickpeas; cover and cook on low until tender about 20-25 minutes. 
NOTE: do not rush the process by cooking on higher heat otherwise the bottom of the pot will burn, which is what happened, and I had to pour everything out quickly into another pot. 

Add lemon juice and cook three more minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Cooks up thick and hearty like a porridge.

I served the stew with a baked baguette side, with each slices brushed with olive oil mixed with fresh chopped garlic and kosher salt. A quick sauté of buttered mushrooms to top the slices was a welcomed pairing along with this amazing comfort stew.

Really an interesting and delightful stew with warm spices that opens up your senses and makes you feel so good knowing you loaded on a meal of nutritional goodness! My older kids were not keen on it at first, but after dousing it with their favourite green mild hot sauce they managed most of their bowls. The little one did not eat one bite. But I will make it again, and eventually he will be tempted to give it a try and maybe enjoy it, like they all did with other foods they turned their nose up to. My mantra for feeding my kids has always been... if they don't like something, try and try again... don't give up! 

Something to really try: To give you a simple health boost regularly with teff, add it to rice. For Chinese rice cooked in a rice cooker, add 2 Tbsp. teff to 2-1/2 rice cups measure of Jasmine rice and 1/4 cup more water. Teff will cook settled on the rice surface. Toss to mix. Your kids will see the little brown specks but won't taste it. Before you know it, it will be your regular routine- makes me feel better serving white rice. 

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