Traditional Ethiopian Homemade Barley Bread

የገብስ ሓበሻ ድፎ ዳቦ 

Ethiopian Traditional Bread ድፎ ዳቦ in the making 

Classic comfort food extraordinair!


Rustic, savory, tangy distinctive flavor bliss, wrapped in crisp Enset leaves!


I have tried to recreate the habesha dabo that I have enjoyed growing up, which I am happy with the outcome. 

የገብስ ሓበሻ ድፎ ዳቦ


Classic comfort food extraordinair!


Its rustic, savory, tangy distinctive flavor bliss was enhanced by the infused aroma of the enset leaves as well as by the mild sour nuance of the wild yeast - እርሾ.

ድፎ ዳቦ bread

Back in the days, knowing the balance of fire fuel to dough amount was what sets apart the “untried” girls from the “real” women.

There was no way of knowing, if the habesha dabo (bread) was ready except by the smell of fresh baked bread wrapped in the now crisp Enset leaves.

The traditional home baked bread ሓበሻ ድፎ ዳቦ is moist, tender and hearty, only if it's done right.

Meaning - No Rush!


Because of the low gluten content of barley grains, barley flour baking demands a bit more attention than wheat flour baking,


Since this comfort food extraordinaire was steam baked wrapped in enset leaves (false banana plant) for hours at a very low heat; its distinct flavor was enhanced by the infused aroma of the enset leaves as well as by the mild sour nuance of the wild yeast (irsho - እርሾ).


Back in the days, ingredients for the traditional bread were just whole grain wheat and barley flour, salt, water and (እርሾ - irsho) (wild yeast). I remember dembelal (tiny aromatic seeds), and tikur azmood (Ethiopian black cumin) were also added to the dough. Although sugar and oil were not added the habesha dabo was still yummy.


The heavenly aroma of this freshly baked right out of the oven bread on display, always takes me on a priceless and sweet journey down memory lane.  


Back in the days, the traditional bread was baked only on special occasions. It was huge with a diameter of about 2 to 3 feet. Yeah, you can feed an army with that.


Baking the traditional bread was a labor of love. It was also time-consuming, but it was worth it. 


Have you ever wondered, back then in the good old days, why the traditional bread took almost 24 hours, sometimes even more to make?


Here are some pointers:

  • As there was no dry active or rapid yeast available, the women were left at the mercy of the wild yeast.
  • The process would begin a day before to develop the wild yeast.
  • The following day they mix all the ingredients and wait for the dough to rise.
  • Then, they would prepare the special, round clay baking tub with Enset leaves covering the inside, ready to wrap the dough top to bottom when it is poured in.

If you manage to make those finicky wild yeast አርሾ bacteria called Saccharomyces cerevisiae (scientific name) alive and happy, they will pay the favour by making a vigorous air bubbles in your dough ሊጥ as shown on dysplay.

You got to pay attention or face the consequence of flat injeras or breads, which is not fun at all.

  • After ensuring that the dough is fully covered and will not burn before baking through – it is topped with a slight cone-like metal sheet as shown in the picture.
  • After the long wait for the disturbed dough to rise a second time, a fire is lighted using wood and dried cow dung for fuel.
  • The roaring flame is allowed to burn down before most of the embers are distributed to the top of the metal sheet. The dough bakes, as the embers slowly die down; a natural timer – when set correctly.

Knowing the balance of fire fuel to dough amount is what sets apart the “untried” girls from the “real” women. There was no way of knowing, if the habesha dabo was ready except by the smell of fresh baked bread wrapped in the now crisp Enset leaves.


The fires were usually set around 4pm and when the evening would come, the heavenly smell of the habesha dabo baked over an open fire, would announce that it was done.

My childhood cooking and baking enthusiasm

Barley -Flax seeds Bread የገብስና ተልባ ድፎ ዳቦ

The overnight socked flax seeds barely bread is light and airy 

The freshly ground flax seeds barley bread is a bit heavy and dense

Ethiopian style cooking Savory danish braid pastries 

Print Print | Sitemap Recommend this page Recommend this page
Copyright © 2013 Lakech Kebede LLC & Open Windows LLC All Rights Reserved