Somalia, located in the Horn of Africa, is an East African country that exemplifies African civil wars and their devastation on the local population. Most people in the Western world associate the country with this. Various regional and world powers, including Ethiopia, the Ottoman Empire, Italy, and Britain, occupied the country over the centuries, leaving their imprints. Let us now learn more about Somalia through its food.
22 Most Popular Foods to Eat in Somalia
In Somalia, the most common breakfast is canjero. Every Somali eats this light meal, which is ideal for early risers, before going to school or work. It’s a simple dish made with just two ingredients: flour (or corn flour) and yeast. To make a proper Somali canjero, combine the flour, yeast, and a pinch of salt with plenty of water to create a thick, soft, and creamy batter. This is fermented overnight and then cooked on low heat in the morning. To make the circular pattern, ladle the batter into the warm pan and spread it around with the bottom of the ladle.
Sabaayad is a type of unleavened flatbread similar to msemen or chapati pancake. To make sabaayad, combine warm water, corn flour, salt, and margarine or oil. Some people add milk and eggs to make it creamy. It is a popular delicacy throughout Somalia. It is served with meat sauce or sometimes liver sauce, which is delicious! It is served as an appetizer with the afternoon casariyo when prepared with milk and eggs.
Muufo is high in carbohydrates due to its corn flour dough. The traditional muufo does not rise during baking because it lacks yeast. It is baked in a tinaar (a traditional Somali clay oven heated with firewood). It is wrapped in a thick cloth after baking to keep it warm.
4. Baasto (Spaghetti)
Pasta is a popular dish in Somali cuisine, and it is enjoyed by all. This comes as no surprise, given that Somalia was once ruled by Italy. The most popular pasta dish is made with a native pasta sauce of meatballs, tomatoes, potato slices, garlic, onion, sunflower oil, and xawaaji.
Pasta used to be a special treat reserved for guests and only served on Fridays as a treat for the family. It is now a reliable source of nutrition for all Somalis.
5. Canbulo Iyo Bun (Beans and Coffee Berries)
For the Somali people, this is a centuries-old traditional dish. It’s a combination of beans and rice, beans and wheat, or sorghum and wheat with fried dry coffee berries. People occasionally eat it with popcorn and cassava. It’s absolutely delicious. It’s typically served for dinner, but it can also be served for Friday breakfast.
In East Africa, soor (also known as ugali) is a popular staple food made from ground maize. The flour is cooked with salt and water, and fresh or sour milk is added to soften it (caano garoor). Some people combine sour milk and Somali sauce to create a sour and sweet flavor. Otherwise, they stiffen it and cut it into cubes to eat with collard greens that have been cooked with tomatoes, carrots, onion, and, of course, meatballs and bananas!
7. Bariis (Rice)
Rice, also known as bariis in Somalia, is the country’s national dish and a staple in every Somali household. There are three ways to prepare it. First, there’s bariis cad (boiled rice) with milk. This dish is typically prepared for the elderly, the sick, or those suffering from eating disorders or who cannot tolerate spicy foods.
The second is bariis isku karis (cooking rice and sauce together), which is cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic, meatballs, and a spice mixture called xawaash (a mix of ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, cardamon, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg). The third option is bariis iyo suugo ( rice with Somali sauce). Rice is cooked with onion, garlic, and xawaash and served with Somali sauce toppings and vegetables.
Sambusa is a popular Somali dessert that everyone enjoys. It is a popular street food that can be found at any food stall, but it is also available in fine-dining restaurants. It’s also a popular way for Somalis to break their fast during the holy Ramadan.
The most common sambusas are filled with either fish or beef. The ground meat is combined with xawaash, onion, and garlic. Fooliyo, a very thin pastry, is rolled into circles, then cut into quarters, and each quarter is filled and wrapped to form a triangle. The crunch is achieved by deep-frying it in palm oil.
9. Moos Bukeeni (Plantain Stew)
Plantain is a favorite of Somali people who live on fertile lands near rivers. Somalia used to be a major hub for African banana exports. Moos bukeeni is a delicious appetizer, just one of the many ways Somalis use fruit. The bananas are sliced, combined with water, coconut milk, and sugar, and gently cooked without stirring because plantains easily crush.
10. Oodkac (Jeryky-style Beef Cubes)
Oodkac is, by far, the most important Somali dish. It was traditionally prepared during the rainy season when milk and meat are plentiful, in preparation for the dry seasons ahead. It was the go-to food for people traveling long distances because it kept well. Oodkac is so valuable that it has been and continues to be given to newlywed couples, mothers with new babies, and even students living far away from home.
11. Doolshe Buuro
A soft cake popular throughout Somalia. It is sweet with a perfect combination of baking powder, butter, milk, and vanilla.
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Having a bowl of sweet porridge with nuts and butter in the morning is also a great way to energize your body. The mushaari is high in minerals and vitamins, making it one of the healthiest Somali dishes. It is commonly prepared for mothers after childbirth in this country to aid in their recovery and lactation. It is also appropriate for the elderly, the frail, and the sick.
This hearty dish is traditionally prepared during iftar in Ramadan but is available all year.
13. Ful Medames
Ful Medames is a hearty stewed fava bean dish with a Somali xawaash spice blend. It may also include raw onion and sliced hard-boiled eggs. This dish goes great with Canjero, Kimis, and Hummus. The softened fava beans are also mixed with olive oil, chopped parsley, a pinch of chili for heat, and some lemon juice to balance the fat.
14. Maraq Digaag
Although it’s commonly referred to as a soup, it has the texture of a stew. This delicious chicken stew, flavored with coriander and ginger, has a European or Middle Eastern flavor profile that the locals can’t get enough of.
In addition to the traditional spices, Maraq Digaag contains carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and chopped or shredded chicken. Like most soups and stews in Somalia, this dish is often served with traditional flatbread on the side.
Although this grilled meat dish originated in Middle Eastern cooking recipes, many different kebab variations are popular throughout the world. Of course, Africa is included.
This country’s kebab comes in a variety of flavors. It can also include seasoned meat cubes grilled with vegetables such as tomatoes and onions. It is sometimes made entirely of minced meat and no vegetables, similar to the Middle Eastern Kofta Kebab.
This egg-stuffed potato dish is common in the Middle East and Arab countries. Nafaqo, with its soft interior and crunchy exterior, is unquestionably a delectable dish to brighten your evening.
This sweet, made from sugar, cornstarch, cardamom, and ghee, is a must-have at Eid celebrations or wedding receptions throughout Somalia. Long lines usually form before Xalwo markets until late the night before Eid.
Aside from the ingredients listed above, some Xalwo recipes include crisped peanuts or toasted sesame seeds. This dessert pairs well with a cup of Somali spiced tea.
Despite its Egyptian origins, this syrup-soaked semolina cake is popular among Somalis and has become a traditional sweet in Africa due to its deliciousness. Basbousa is made by cooking the semolina batter on a sheet pan and then sweetening it with simple syrup, rose water, or orange flower water. It is the go-to dessert for Chrisrians fasting during Eid and Ramadan because it is easily veganized.
If you like coconut, this is the dish for you! To make this delectable treat, dissolve the sugar in water in an oven before adding the shredded coconut. To balance out the richness of the sugar and coconut mixture, cardamom is a common addition to Gashaato. After cooling, the melted sugar in the mixture forms a thick paste that can be shaped into balls or pressed into a baking dish and cut into squares or rectangles.
20. Kac Kac
Crunchy on the outside and soft, pillowy on the inside, these Somalian donuts are the ideal snack for satisfying your sweet tooth, especially during Ramadan. Somali beignets are another name for Kac Kac.
If you want to try this dish, it can be found in almost any traditional Somali restaurant in Mogadishu and other Somali cities. These delectable treats are frequently served with coffee or milk tea.
21. Beef Suqaar
A typical stir-fried meal from Somalia is called beef suqaar. Oil, meat, onions, carrots, salt, cumin, turmeric, bell peppers, lime juice, and coriander are typically used to prepare the dish. Oil is used to brown the beef and onions, combined with carrots, cumin, and turmeric.
The ingredients are simmered in the saucepan with a small amount of water until the carrots become soft. Salt and lime juice are used to season the dish, and coriander is added as a garnish before serving.
22. Surbiyaan Hilib Adhi
It’s an arrangement of rice and lamb. The locals occasionally experiment with this dish using goat rather than lamb. This dish is a must-have if you visit Somalia during Eid, their greatest festival. This meal gains flavor from the flavor of lamb, which has been increased with caramelized onion and saffron water. The distinctive flavors of cardamom, lemon juice, and other spices will magically warm your heart.
The food here, just like its people, is heartwarming. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try these delectable dishes.
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