Tef, or teff, is an annual grass cultivated in North East Africa for its grain, which has a mild, nutty flavour. It is used in making the Ethiopian bread injera.

Jenny McCann e-mailed me from Ethiopia with this description: "Tef, along with all other crops, is harvested by hand with a small scythe. Sheaves are laid down then transported by donkey to a threshing area where a team of 4-5 oxen, donkeys, cows or a mix are driven round and round over it to separate the grain from the stalk. It is then winnowed by tossing it up into the wind in a large flat basket so that the chaff is blown off. Grain is then put into sacks and transported to storage or to market. The straw and hay are made into picturesque domed haystacks which pepper the landscape along with the exquisitely neat stacks of dried cow and donkey pats collected and stored as fuel for fires".

David Lyne-Gordon adds "Teff is a mountain plant of Abyssinia, cultivated everywhere there, at a height from 2500 - 8000 feet where gentle heat and rain favour its development. Its seeds furnish the favourite bread of the Abyssinians in the form of thin, highly leavened and spongy cakes. Four varieties of this grain are cultivated. Parkyns writes that teff is considered by the Abyssinians wholesome and digestible, but so far from being satisfied of this, he is doubtful of its containing much nutritive property and as for its taste, he says, "fancy yourself chewing a piece of sour sponge and you will have a good idea of what is considered the best bread in Abyssinia".

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