In 2003, a Dutch company registered a European patent for teff-related products, claiming that these were “invented” by a certain Jans Roosjen, a senior company official. In recent years, Ethiopia has complained that this is totally inaccurate — Ethiopians have been using teff for millennia, after all — and that the patent prevents Ethiopian companies from exploiting a growing global market for teff.
Teff is gluten-free and rich in nutrients, and has been touted as the next major health food fad, following in the footsteps of quinoa and kale.
This November, a Dutch court ruled that the patent contained no ‘inventiveness’, and was therefore null and void. The news was announced by Fitsum Arega, until recently the chief of staff of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, on Twitter on Wednesday.
“I just learned that The Court of The Hague ruled against the #Teff patent holder.
This is great news,” he said. “I hope we can learn from this that our national assets must be protected by Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia.”
Injera: Ethiopia’s Super Bread
By An Twitto
Teff, Ethiopia’s traditional grain, has been enjoying its well-deserved spotlight as a recently discovered superfood. Teff is extremely healthy and nutritious, and certainly worth getting acquainted with. You can find teff in health food and ethnic stores. There is a darker variety and a lighter one, and it’s worth trying both to see which you like better.
Teff is most often prepared and eaten in the form of injera, an Ethiopian staple that is best described as a flat, round, spongy pancake with a characteristic flavorful sour taste. The sourness comes from fermentation, which enhances the nutritional value of the grain.
If you’ve ever tried your hand at sourdough, the process of making injera is very similar: take some teff flour (be sure to sift it first and discard any impurities), mix with water to form thick batter, and leave it be. That’s it! No need to add sugar or anything else. I let my batter ferment in a glass bowl with cling film stretched over the top, but covering with a clean kitchen towel would do as well.
An Ethiopian friend told me that in cold weather she adds just a tiny pinch of store-bought bread yeast to speed things up, but waiting an extra day or two does the trick if you have patience. I started my batter on Sunday, and made the injera on Thursday