Recipe: Ethiopian Hisbist

Written by
FH staff writer
Published on
November 2, 2019 at 2:50:00 PM PDT November 2, 2019 at 2:50:00 PM PDTnd, November 2, 2019 at 2:50:00 PM PDT

Across Ethiopia, Hisbist is a staple bread prepared for large gatherings marking almost any special occasion—birthdays, weddings, graduations, or hosting special guests. It ain’t a party without Hisbist! And what better way to feed a crowd while helping guests feel at home than with fresh bread?

The original recipe served 15 people and called for 24 cups of flour and over two litres of water! Traditionally it’s prepared by wrapping the dough in banana leaves and steaming it in huge iron pots over an open fire.


  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp oil
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ an orange, juiced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour*

  • *for whole wheat bread, substitute 1 cup all-purpose with whole wheat


1. In a large bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Then add oil, milk, orange juice, and egg. Mix well. Add salt and sugar. Let rest for 30 minutes while the yeast activates.

2. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add to yeast mixture. Mix well and knead for 5-10 minutes, adding small amounts of flour until dough is soft and only just stops sticking. Cover dough with a damp cloth and let rise for 2.5 hours.

3. Fill a large sauté pan with water, an inch deep. Move the dough into another non-stick sauté pan of the same size, cover with a lid or foil, and place over the first pan suspended over the water. Bring water to a boil so the steam starts to evenly heat the second pan and slowly steam bake the bread. Keep the water on simmer, and watch that it does not boil over or boil dry. Steam for 75-90 minutes, until the bread is no longer sticky to the touch.

4. Makes one large round loaf. Serve with tea.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe by Tenagne Belete and Getnet Girma, FH Ethiopia staff members living among and walking with families in the community of Sasiga, Ethiopia.

In some places in Ethiopia, Hisbist is cooked in a large pan over the fire. Don't worry, we don't expect you to have access to these utensils! We've adapted the recipe for you.