Black Barley Genfo - Ethiopian Breakfast Porridge!

Genfo is a slightly sticky and firm porridge typically made from a blend of roasted barley flour or teff flour. Traditionally, it is served with nitter qibbeh (Ethiopian spiced/clarified butter), berbere (red pepper spice blend - essential to Ethiopian cooking) and mitmita (chili pepper blend).

In my previous post - How to make vegan Ethiopian clarified butter at home! - I shared a recipe on how I make a plant-based Ethiopian spiced butter. I highly recommend making/using nitter qibbeh for this recipe. If you really can't, a good quality olive oil will do the trick. However, keep in mind that it won't taste the same!

Some people like to add a sweetener such as honey, others eat it with yoghurt. Genfo is a favourite of Ethiopian long-distance runners. It is truly a breakfast for champs! Here is a basic recipe:

Time: 40 minutes Serves: 2 Ingredients


  • If you don't have access to genfo flour, start by lightly roasting the barley flour or teff flour in a pan or in the oven until slightly toasted. This takes about 10 minutes. This will significantly reduce the cooking time and also give the porridge a nutty flavour. Allow the flour to cool completely.

  • Bring the water to a boil in a pot and reduce the heat immediately to medium-low. Add salt and a tablespoon of nitter qibbeh. Once that'[s dissolved, start adding the cooled flour stirring to avoid lumps until it is one thick dry mixture.

  • Shape the porridge into a ball in the middle of the pot, add a splash of hot water around it, put the lid on, and cook on low heat for about 5 mins.

  • Take the pot off heat, mix and fold for about 5 mins, turning the genfo "inside out." Shape into a ball again, add another splash of hot water around the porridge, and cook for 5 mins. Repeat this step one more time.

  • Remove from heat, mould into the shape of a volcano, and gouge a hole in the middle.

  • Add nitter qibbeh, berbere, mitmita into the hole and mix well.

  • Eat it by the spoonful, dipping each scoop in the liquid centre.





  • Add more berbere and mitmita if you like it spicy.

  • Add a ring of yogurt or a sweetener of your choice.