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Kicha (Eritrean Flatbreads) from “In Bibi’s Kitchen"

Kicha is an unleavened Northeast African flatbread made with a few pantry ingredients—whole wheat and all-purpose flour, and salt. Dip it in stews or enjoy it plain with a drizzle of honey or spiced ghee.

Kicha Flatbread broke into pieces on a wooden board topped with a linen.

Alison Bickel

This post is part of our Summer Cookbook Club series for June 2021 featuring “In Bibi’s Kitchen” by Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen.

This unleavened flatbread hails from Eritrea and it's a daily household staple here. It is so simple to put together—it is a combination of just flour, water, and salt at its base.

I love the free-form nature of this bread. Since you shape it in the hot pan (move quickly and make sure to not burn your fingers!), it develops a wonderfully irregular texture on the outside, charred in some places and soft in others, making it perfect for mopping up stews and long-cooked vegetables. It's also delicious straight out of the pan drizzled with a little honey or spiced ghee. 

Kicha from ‘In Bibi’s Kitchen’ Cookbook set on top of a linen on a wooden board.
Alison Bickel

Ways to Adapt this Recipe

Once you master the basic recipe, you can add a few pinches or warm spices to the dough. Any of the spices or spice mixes below will work well here.

  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Fenugreek
  • Berbere, an Ethiopian spice blend

Tips for Making Kicha

It might seem intimidating to shape the dough in the hot pan, but there are some step you can take to do it successfully. Once you make Kicha a few times the approach will seem like second nature:

  • Wet your fingers
  • Work gently but quickly to press the dough out into a circle around the warm pan

What to Serve with Kicha

This flatbread is endlessly versatile. You can enjoy it for breakfast with yogurt, eat it along with stewed greens, stew or just as a snack with butter.

A Little Bit about Eritrea

Eritrea is located along the inlet of the Red Sea and shares borders with Sudan, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. It won its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year war. It has nine recognized ethnic groups. The food is heavily influenced by Indian, Arab and Ethiopian cultures.

About “In BiBi’s Kitchen”

“In Bibi’s Kitchen,” written by Somali chef Hawa Hassan with food writer Julia Turshen, explores not only the recipes from eight African countries that touch the Indian Ocean but also the women, communities, and cultures of the region. This book is as valuable in the kitchen as it in the living room casually read page by page. She peppers the book with facts about the different countries and stories of the women who created some of the recipes. It’s the kind of cookbook you keep within arm’s reach so you can reference it often.

More Bread Recipes

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Kicha (Eritrean Flatbreads) from “In Bibi’s Kitchen"

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 17 mins
Servings 4 servings
Yield 2 large flatbreads
Recipe Note: Recipe reprinted with permission from In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Method

  1. Mix the flours, salt, and water:

    Place the whole wheat and all-purpose flours and salt in a large bowl and whisk well to combine. Using your hands, mix in the water. The batter will be like a very thick pancake batter.

    Dough in a glass bowl to make Kicha (Eritrean Flatbread).
    Alison Bickel
  2. Line a plate with paper towel and heat a nonstick skillet with oil:

    Line a plate with paper towels and set aside. Set a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil, tilting the pan so the oil lightly greases the bottom of the pan. 

    Frying pan with oil and a plate covered with a paper towel to make Kicha (Eritrean Flatbread).
    Alison Bickel
  3. Cook the flatbread:

    Once the oil is hot, add half the dough to the skillet and use wet fingertips to gently and carefully press the dough into a wide circle that covers the surface of the skillet.

    Cover the skillet and cook until the top of the dough is glossy and the underside is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the bread over, cover, and cook until the second side is browned, another 2 to 3 minutes.

    Transfer the flatbread to the prepared plate, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, and repeat the process with the remaining dough. 

    Kicha from ‘In Bibi’s Kitchen’ Cookbook pan frying.
    Alison Bickel
    Kicha from ‘In Bibi’s Kitchen’ Cookbook pan frying.
    Alison Bickel
  4. Serve and store leftovers:

    Serve immediately while the breads are warm or let cool to room temperature. Leftover breads can be stored in a plastic bag at room temperature for a day and rewarmed in a skillet over low heat.