Defo Dabo Recipe

This is one of the many breads made in Ethiopia, and it has a special ingredient; before baking, you wrap the moist dough in Koba Kitel – that is, the leaves of the Enset plant, a vital food source in many Southern Ethiopian cultures. Enset is often referred to as “false banana” because it resembles a banana plant. And, sometimes, if you can’t find Enset leaf in your local market, you can use banana leaf instead, or simply bake the bread without it.

This recipe is for one loaf of about nine inches in diameter.


  • 3¼ cups of wheat flour
  • ½ packet instant dried yeast
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • ½ tablespoon of salt
  • ½ tablespoon of ground coriander
  • ½ tablespoon of cumin (or a little more, to taste)
  • ½ tablespoon of cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • About ¼ to ½ pounds of banana leaf
  • 12 ounces of warm Water, plus a little more if necessary (see below)


Combine the yeast, sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Pour about 12 ounces of warm Water over it, stir to dissolve the ingredients, then cover the bowl and set aside for 20 minutes or so to allow the yeast to activate (by this time the mixture should be bubbling).

Stir in the oil, cumin, cardamom and coriander, then pour in the flour and use your fingers to blend the mixture into a soft dough. Kneed until the dough is elastic, adding a little more Water if necessary. You want it to be a bit moist.

Cover the dough and set it aside to stand in a warm place for about 60 minutes. The dough will just about be doubled in volume.

When the dough has risen, line the base and sides of a baking pan with aluminum foil and the banana leaf. Knock the dough back (this will happen as soon as you touch it), then pour into the pan and wrap the banana leaf over the top.

Cover the top with the remaining leaves, then set aside to rise for 20 minutes before transferring to an oven pre-heated to 350°. Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until the bread is cooked thorough. Remove from the pan and allow to cool before slicing and serving.

If you want to add a little extra heat to your Defo Dabo, then cut one or two jalapeños into slices (no seeds), mix some pieces into the dough before you wrap it in banana leaf, and then put a few slices of the jalapeño across the top of the bread.

Learn More About Ethiopian Foods Here.