Recipes from Eritrea: Hembesha (Eritrean Bread)

Recipes from Eritrea

Hembesha (Eritrean Bread)

Country: Eritrea
Course: Bread
Makes: 1 loaf


  • 1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom seed
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp oil or butter
  • 3 3/4 cup flour
  • Dash of white pepper, cayenne, ground ginger (optional)


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water and let stand until frothy. Add the eggs and spices.
  2. Gradually add the flour and knead for 10 minutes on a well-floured surface.
  3. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour or two. Punch down and knead again, shaping the dough into a round, flat shape about 3/4 of an inch thick. Put it in an oiled frying pan and let rise again until roughly doubled in size.
  4. Use a fork or knife to make lines in the top of the bread.
  5. Put the pan over a medium to low flame and cover it. It will take about 10 minutes to bake on this side. Once the bottom of the bread is a nice golden color flip it over and let it bake on the other side for about five minutes.
  6. Remove from the pan and spread a little butter over the top. Slice it up in wedges.