Himbasha (Ethiopian bread)

 Himbasha is a traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean flatbread with a sweet and savory flavor that is mostly prepared for Christmas.


  • 6 cups flour
  •  tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon fine salt
  •  cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup niter kibbeh (melted and cooled) or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tikur azmud or habba sawda (Ethiopian nigella) or black sesame seeds
  • 2 cups lukewarm water (more or less), at 95 F / 36°C

For brushing

  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons niter kibbeh (melted and cooled), or olive oil


  • Stand mixer
  • Pastry brush
  • Sharp knife
  • Rolling pin
  • 2 round pans (about 12 inches / 30 cm in diameter)


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, ground cardamom, sugar, tikur azmud or habba sawda (Ethiopian nigella) or black sesame seeds and mix.
  • Dig a well in the center of this mixture, add the yeast in the center of this well and add 1 cup (250 ml) of lukewarm water.
  • Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Add the melted niter kibbeh and start kneading at low to medium speed while incorporating the rest of the lukewarm water very gradually until you obtain a soft and homogeneous dough that comes off the sides of the bowl.
  • Add salt and knead at medium speed for 5 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough and place it, covered with a cloth, in a warm place, away from drafts, for 90 minutes so it can rise.
  • At the end of the first rise, knock back the dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide it into two dough pieces.
  • Roll out the two dough pieces into a circle about 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter.
  • Place each circle in a round baking pan, such as a pizza pan.
  • Cover the two himbasha, and place them in a warm, draft-free place for 10 minutes, for a second rise.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F (175°C).
  • Using a sharp knife, or cookie cutters of different sizes, mark 4 to 5 concentric circles on the first loaf, working from the center to the edges, then make cuts intersecting in the center to form a wheel pattern.
  • On the second loaf, make decorative patterns.
  • Froth the milk and melted kibbeh niter (or olive oil) in a bowl.
  • Brush the himbasha with this mixture and bake for 25 to 35 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.