Kisra, Sudanese flatbread recipe
Taste of a South Sudan presents an easy step by step instructions on how to make kisra. Kisra is the staple food of Sudan, and the second staple food of South Sudan, after Asida. It is a thin leavened bread made from fermented sorghum flour and small amounts of wheat flour. To make kisra, Sudanese flatbread recipe, a thin layer of fermented kisra mix called Ajin is spread over a heated greased flat pan. After cooking for a minute or two, flip the kisra over and spread it on a plate, layer after layer, as seen in the photo above. For a video demonstration, visit “How to make kisra” by Taste of South Sudan on youtube. Sudanese and South Sudanese eat kisra as starch for lunch and dinner. The sourness and sponginess of this flatbread goes well with molokhia stew, bamia stew and lamb stew with carrots and potatoes.
How to make kisra
Make kisra batter, called Ajin
Mix 2 cups of whole sorghum flour and 2 cups of water. Cover and set to ferment for 12-24 hours. Fermentation is complete when bubbles appear in the ajin, and the ajin tastes sour. Fermentation is accelerated by humidity and heat such as found in Khartoum, Sudan, or in Juba, South Sudan. In colder environments, such as in the winters of the western hemisphere, fermentation takes more time. After the ajin has fermented, add 1 cup of wheat flour and 1 cup of water and mix well.
Heat source and a flat pan
Traditionally, kisra is cooked on a flat metal pan is balanced over either stones or on a “konun.” “Konun” is a Sudanese charcoal stove. Burning charcoal that is spread evenly inside the “konun” supplies the heat. Most times the metal pan is balanced on four stones. Then straw or reeds are set on fire and fed intermittently to maintain an even heat. The cook sits on a low stool and simultaneously feeds and maintains the fire, while making the kisra. Anyone who has cooked kisra this way knows the discomfort of sitting near fire, and having hands or feet burnt. An electric griddle, like this one shown below or similar, makes cooking kisra a painless experience.
Pour kisra ajin onto a flat pan.
Preheat the pan. Set your electric griddle to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 degrees celsius.) Grease the pan with oil. Traditionally, Sudanese use sautéed brain of a cow (tayuq), to grease the pan. Scoop 1/3 cup of ajin, spread one swoop onto top third of the pan. Use a plastic spreader to spread the ajin evenly over the pan using left-right sweeping motions. Refer to the “How to make Kisra” video for a demonstration by Taste of South Sudan.
Spread ajin evenly on flat pan
Remove cooked kisra, flip onto flat plate.
After spreading the ajin, within 1 to 2 minutes it will start to rise and lift up from the edges. Lift the kisra from one edge, and in 1 motion flip onto a flat plate. Layer, then fold into individual rectangular kisra leaves. Serve with your favorite stew.
Experience, experience, experience.
Mastering cooking kisra takes time and practice. There are multiple variables. First; the consistency of the ajin. It cannot be too thick, nor too thin, otherwise it will not spread evenly. Second; the fermentation process. The ajin must be sufficiently fermented; it is carbon dioxide gas rising out of the ajin that creates the sponginess and lifts the batter. Third; maintain a constant temperature of your pan. This was a challenge to accomplish when using straw or charcoal as the heat source. Fourth; spread the ajin evenly over the pan. It takes months of experience to get this right.
- Sorghum flour, 2 cups
- Wheat flour, 1 cup
- Water, 3 cups
- Electrical flat griddle: I use a 1500W griddle 15inches x 11 inches cooking surface
- First, make Kisra ajin (batter) this way. Mix 2 cups of sorghum and 2 cups of water. Leave ajin covered to ferment in a warm location overnight. You can leave it out in the sun in the daytime, or if the weather is particularly warm such as in the tropics, you can leave it inside. Humidity and warm weather makes this process faster. In a cold environment like the Western hemisphere this initial fermentation may take 2 days.
- Alternatively to jumpstart the fermentation process and save time, mix one cup of sorghum flour with plain yoghurt into a paste. Leave to ferment overnight. Then add another cup of sorghum and water and mix. Allow this time to ferment. This will cut the initial fermentation time by half.
- Once the ajin is fermented, as indicated by the presence of large bubbles in the ajin and a rise in volume and a sour taste; add 1 cup of wheat flour and 1 cup of water and mix using your handy lofrega. Now you are ready to start cooking the kisra.
- Heat your flat pan for cooking kisra. I used an electric flat griddle, 1500W, 15" x 11" set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit(176 degrees Celsius).
- Grease your pan. Use a paper towel or a rag, dipped in cooking oil.
- Scoop ⅓ cup of ajin, spread it on the top third of the pan in one swoosh movement, and use a plastic spreader, spread the ajin evenly over the pan in left-right sweeping motions.
- Allow to cook for a minute or so, then lift it up and flip onto a flat plate.
- After finishing cooking kisra batch for the day, fold the kisra into rectangular pieces. Serve with your favorite stew.
- Leave ⅓ cup of ajin to act as starter mix for the fermentation process next time you need to make kisra. This mix can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.