Tibetan Bread — Balep


Tibetans make so many kinds of bread, and different areas make unique styles. This recipe shows you how to make Central Tibetan style bread, a kind of flatbread called Balep Korkun. Round and quite thin, it is very easy to make. You just need flour and water.
This recipe makes bread for two people.

Balep Ingredients

  • Two cups of all-purpose flour (Any kind of flour is okay, like wheat, all-purpose, or self-rising. If you use all-purpose flour, you will need some baking powder.)
  • One tablespoon of baking powder
  • One cup of water

Preparing the Dough

For the most simple version of this bread, you mix the flour and a little water very well by hand and keep adding water until you can make a smooth ball of dough. Then knead the dough very well until the dough is flexible. When you have finished kneading the dough, separate it into four pieces and roll them into ball shapes. Then leave the dough balls in a container with a lid on for fifteen to twenty minutes. After that, place one of the ball shapes on a flat surface and roll it out with a rolling pin, making a flat, round shape about 1/2″ to 3/4″ high. Repeat with all your dough.

Tibetan bread dough

Cooking

I cook my Tibetan bread in a large non-stick pan with some no-stick spray. You can use a little oil or butter if you want. First you should heat up your frying pan on high until it gets hot. Turn down the heat to medium, put the bread in the pan and cover it with a lid. Cook fifteen minutes on medium heat. You should turn over the bread every four or five minutes, so both sides of the bread get cooked well.

Cooking Tibetan Bread
For a variation: If you like, you can add a bit of butter, or applesauce to the flour before you begin adding the water, for special flavor.

We are interested to see how other people make balep korkun, and also how this recipe turned out for you. Please let us know in the comments below.

You can find an updated version of this recipe, along with a video showing step by step how to cook balep korkun, as well as the round, yeasted loaves of amdo balep, and fried bread (numtrak balep), in our Tibetan Home Cooking ebook and video series >>
 

 

 

By Lobsang Wangdu

 

Comments

  1. Looks amazing. This website is absolutely amazing. When I attempted it my dough stayed pretty sticky and was impossible to make a smooth ball. Any tips?

    • Thanks so much, Alex! For your balep, you can add a little bit of flour (even after you have started kneading) to your dough, as if it is sticky it means there is, relatively, too much water. Let us know how it goes.

  2. No salt?

    • Hi Chris,
      No we don’t put any salt. We use all purpose flour, baking powder and water, that’s it. If you want to put a little salt, it’s no harm.
      Best to you.

  3. I simply love Tibetan food…. living close to Tibet fascination to this rich culture is evident…. But the beauty is its retention of culture and simplicity…….. <3 love Tibet.

  4. 2011-12-17 19:42
    And we forgot to say thanks for writing in, Mainer!

    2011-12-17 19:41
    Hi Mainer,
    You are correct. You only need baking powder and salt if you are using non self-rising flour. As for the barley flour, we have never heard of Tibetan using barley flour for bread. They use it for tsampa of course, but all the Tibetans we know, inside and outside of Tibet, use wheat flour for making bread. In central Tibet, for example, the balep korkun, is definitely wheat flour, not barley. We think that is an error on wikipedia.

    2011-12-17 14:52
    Hello, could you please clarify when we would need to use baking powder? Is the amount of baking powder listed in the ingredients list what we need to include only if we are using something other than self rising flour?

    Also, I saw on Wikipedia that this bread is usually made with barley flour. If we can find barley flour, would that make a more authentic balep?

    Thank you for your help.
    Quote

    2011-12-05 08:50
    Great to hear this Brenna! It’s great to share Tibetan culture, and happy the recipe worked for you. Thanks for letting us know :-)

    2011-12-04 23:57
    Made some of this for my report on Tibet! It turned out really great and was a big hit with my class; my parents liked it as well. Thanks so much for the recipe!
    Quote

    2011-11-03 06:16
    Thanks for posting Marcel :-) Please do try the recipes and let us know how they go for you!

    2011-11-03 01:51
    I have recently been to Lijiang & Shabgri-La (my wife is Chinese) which is heavily Tibetan culture. Fascinating place, love it, and the yak meat and buttermilk was ok. Had some bread too so I gotta try some of these recipies!!!

    2011-10-18 14:30
    You’re so welcome!

    2011-10-18 13:40
    thank you, this will be very useful information for my report on Tibetan culture.

    2011-10-12 11:23
    It’s about two balep each, as pictured. Let us know how it goes :-)

    2011-10-12 11:12
    how much is “two peoples” worth of balep.

    2011-07-08 22:33
    Do you have a recipe for the kind of Tibetan bread sold on the streets in Dharamsala and other settlements in the mornings? It’s round and about 1/2 inch thick. I really miss having it.
    Thu je Chay!

    2011-06-01 07:30
    Hi Kejang lama,

    We will be releasing the Tibetan Home Cooking eBook and Video Series in July, with recipes for sha balep and veggie balep, plus videos of how to make them. If you would like to get early notice of the book’s release and a big discount on the price, sign up for out Tibetan culture newsletter. (See the homepage of http://www.yowangdu.com.)

    2011-06-01 04:15
    Tryed making “shya phaley” but not getting it right… Please help

    2011-05-02 08:32
    Hi Sandra,

    Yes, shabelep is a Tibetan dish. It is “meat bread” or what one would call in the West a meat pie. We are working on a recipe for this and it will be available in our ebook that is due out around July first. All the best,

    2011-05-01 23:21
    Is Shafale also a tibetan dish. If so can I have the recipe. I hope the spelling is correct.

    2010-12-31 11:53
    Hi Don,
    We tried this with rice flour once (because one of us also sometimes goes gluten free) and it was okay, but definitely very different. The bread was very packy, very dense, and it seemed like a sort of very large rice cracker. Maybe a combination of flours would work better…. We’ll try again one day and let you know. Thanks for writing :-)

    2010-12-29 22:48
    Will this work with flours other than wheat? I am gluten intolerant and am always on the look out for breads that can be made with gluten free flour. Usually maize, corn or rice flour or a combination of the 3.

    2010-11-09 07:24
    What kind of thukpa would you like to see? We’ll be adding more soon! If you subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll get videos of new recipes as we make them and pre-notice of our Tibetan cookbook coming out as soon as we can finish it :-)

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