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How to Bake Tibetan Bread: Amdo Balep Recipe

Amdo Balep
Tibetan Bread: Amdo Balep

What is Amdo Balep?

These crusty round yeasted loaves take their name from the Amdo region of northeastern Tibet, but are popular also in central Tibet. In both regions, the bakers will sometimes cover the dough in the ashes of fire instead of using an oven or stove. Though we use yeast here, Tibetans will also make this bread with baking powder or a kind of starter. We also mix whole wheat and white flour, though some would use only white flour. Traditionally, in Tibet, the loaves were most likely a kind of whole wheat, as refined wheats did not exist in many places due to a lack of the necessary milling equipment. Our friend Lungtok told us that in his home town in Amdo, the village people would make huge balep on special occasions — so large that two people could hardly lift them! We make two versions of Amdo bread — one that is cooked on the stove top and this one, in which the bread is baked in the oven. For the more traditional stove-top version of this bread, please see our eBook and video series, Tibetan Home Cooking

One round loaf for 4-6 people

Preparation time: 30 minutes or less, not including the rising time of 3 to 8 hours (depending on how you want to do it.)

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Note:  Prepare the dough the night before you want to cook it, or at least 3 hours before you want to cook the bread. We prepare the dough just before bed on the night before we want to cook it, and let it rise overnight, then cook it first thing in the morning for an amazing breakfast 🙂


  •  1 cup of warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Additional .5 cup water (out of the tap is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sugar to activate the yeast
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups all purpose white flour
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (any oil without a strong flavor is fine)
  • Optional: 4 tablespoons of plain yoghurt, for a browner crust. We use full fat, but you could use whatever you like.

Cooking equipment needed

A heavy covered pot that is safe for the oven. We use a Lodge brand cast-iron Dutch oven like the one pictured a left. Ours has about a 10” diameter, but a bit larger or smaller is fine. (Disclosure: we get a small commission if you buy the pot from Amazon by clicking on the image to the left.) It is helpful if the sides of the pot are as straight up and down as possible, since you will need to turn the bread over while baking it, and if the sides of the pot slope outwards, the shape of the bread makes it hard to fit back in the pot properly. That said, our Dutch oven has slightly sloping sides and it is not ideal, but it works okay 🙂 Note: We don’t recommend using a steel pot as in our experience, the bread will stick to that.

Prepare the yeast

  • Add the yeast and sugar to 1 cup of warm water.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes until yeast is quite foamy.
  • Or, follow the directions on your yeast package.
  • Sometimes, the yeast does not activate and you have to try with some new yeast.

Prepare the dough

  • Before you start prepping the dough, spread 1 tablespoon cooking oil around the bottom of your pot, or Dutch oven.
  • Combine the whole wheat and white flour and mix well together.
  • Pour yeast mixture (which should be about 1 cup) and an additional .5 cup of water (tap water is fine) into a bowl with the combined whole wheat and white flour.
  • Optional: Add 4 tablespoons of plain yoghurt, for a browner crust.
  • Mix well and knead for about 5 minutes to form a smooth ball of dough.
  • Place your dough in your pot, and with your hands, press the dough out into a flattish circle, so that it covers the bottom of the pot. The thickness doesn’t matter very much because the dough will rise.
  • Put a lid on the pot and let the dough rise in a warmish place for a minimum of three hours. We prepare it the night before and let it sit overnight. The dough should double in size.
Tibetan Bread: Amdo Balep
Tibetan Bread: Amdo Balep


  • Once the dough is doubled, or at least 3 hours later, put the pot with the risen dough in the oven.
  • Turn the oven on to 425 degrees fahrenheit. You don’t need to preheat the oven.
  • Cook the first side for 25 minutes.
  • After 25 minutes, turn the bread over. Please be very careful, as the pot will be extremely hot and it is a little awkward to turn it over. You may need to run a knife or spatula around the edges to loosen the crust from the pot if it is stuck. Normally ours does not stick, but if you leave the dough longer than 8 hours or so, it seems to stick. You can also shake the pot to unstick it. You can dump the bread out onto a chopping board or other flat surface, then put it back in the pot with the side that was down now up. You do not need to add any additional oil.
  • After turning it over, put the pot back in the oven and cook for 20 more minutes.

Of course your oven may be different so monitor the balep to be sure it’s not burning 🙂 It should be a nice golden brown when done. Let us know how yours turns out in the comments below.

Total cooking time is 45 minutes at 425 degrees fahrenheit: first side 25 minutes and second side 20 minutes, in our oven. Yours may be a little more or less.

Take it out of the oven and serve. If not serving right away cool on a rack.

Best to eat hot!

Tibetan Home Cooking

Tibetan Home Cooking

Bring joy to the people you love by making your own delicious, authentic Tibetan meals


18 responses to “How to Bake Tibetan Bread: Amdo Balep Recipe”

  1. Frank A. Lojewski Avatar
    Frank A. Lojewski

    Well, my bread is a little different. Aside from a white and whiole wheat base, I add Tsampa to the dough. The result is a not high rising bread, but something really tasty and heavy enough to stick to the ribs, not the foam rubber illusion passed off a bread in grocery stores.

  2. Jennifer Ure Avatar
    Jennifer Ure

    Tashi delek,

    Thanks a million for this recipe for Amdo Balep. The bread is delicious.
    And since I do not eat yeasted bread, I decided to try making one with my sourdough starter. I came out beautifully and it was delicious. Yesterday/today I made another one with sourdough starter and it came out beautifully and tasted great again. I am hooked. The other thing to share is that since my oven is not working I cooked it on the stove top in my iron pot. And that was successful.
    I am from Trinidad & Tobago and we have a bread that we cook on the stovetop, it is called “bake. This is why I was certain that yours would work and it did.
    I am happy to have another break to try.
    Thanks again.

  3. Is this simple?

    1. Yes, pretty much.Give it a try and let us know what you think!

  4. Flandria Avatar

    I am in Leh, Ladakh India right now and our hostess would make us delicious “Ladakhi Bread” as she would call it. Is this the same bread and recipe?

  5. Gwen Betz Avatar
    Gwen Betz

    Would plain milled barley flour ever be used as part of this bread (instead of white wheat bread), or other bread recipes of Tibet?
    Not the toasted Tsampa style flour 🙂

    We have a similar recipe to this, sort of a family heirloom, using barley flour. It may be from Northern India, where my grandfather lived for about 12 yrs. He also visited Tibet in 1904! Perhaps this was the source of the bread. Will be interested in your comments.

    I’ve made several of your recipes, all have been tasty and successful.

    With all good wishes,


  6. My dough has doubled in size in only 1 hour. Do I put it in now?

    1. Yes! Go for it.

  7. I just made ambo balep this morning- it’s absolutely fabulous. These instructions make it very easy to try Tibetan cooking. Thank you, and peace to you!

    1. We’re so happy to hear this, thanks, Ashley!

  8. […] ho cercato su Google qualcosa di un po’ più affidabile.Ho trovato il sito di Mr Wang Du, un signore dall’aria simpatica e, sicuramente, più tibetana di quella del blogger da […]

  9. Greetings Mr. Yowangdu,

    I have a rather odd question. Are there any Tibetan people that have known gluten intolerances? My 2 young sons happen to be gluten intolerant, so when I find recipes like this, I just wonder if there are some Tibetans that can no longer have gluten and how they eat bread if they can’t.

    Many thanks! Peace to you!

    1. Hi Jen,

      Sorry, but we don’t know any Tibetans personally who are gluten-intolerant, but we assume that there are some. We do know of some people who get sinus problems from eating sugar. And some little children who have dairy allergies and things like that. We are sorry to hear that your sons have this problem.

      All the best to you and your family!

    2. I go to a few International/Asian markets and buy wheat flour from India…haven’t had any issues with it but also use Besan ( ground lentil) flour, chickpea flour, all the different rice flours and so many different pre-made GF combinations available.

  10. Thank you for the recipe! I’m trying it out for the first time 🙂 will let you know how it turns out once it done!

    1. You are so welcome, Tsering 🙂 We are happy to know you are trying the Amdo bread recipe. Definitely let us know how it goes 🙂

  11. tashi – delek wongdula,
    could you please also show how to make sanga balep ? .. the sugar coated crisp cookies with thin layers! could not find it anywhere in the internet.
    thank you for the amdo balep recipe ..
    best regards, serin

    1. Thanks for writing, Serin. I like these, too and when I get a chance, I will make this recipe for the site. We are looking for more Tibetan recipes from others. Do you happen to know any good Tibetan recipes you would like to share as a guest post on the blog? All the best to you!

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