A variety of cuisine falls under the Somali umbrella. The influences of the cuisine range between the country’s regions. One would say it is a beautiful fusion resulting from the trade within the country. Check out below to get a glimpse into the traditional food choices unique to the country.
I remember reading a post from a fellow blogger that published a post about their first Somali plate. On the side, a banana was placed. He mistakenly labeled it a part of the appetizer. From this, he received major pushback from true Somali people that allowed him to know this isn’t true. Apparently, a banana is served with all dishes. Traditionally, you are to eat bites of the banana with the dish of your choice. For example, if you were eating a rice dish, you’d eat pieces of the banana with each spoonful of rice. Anyone curious about traditional Somali cuisine should make note of the banana’s significance.
The first meal of the day is extremely important to Somali culture. The morning’s mean usually consisted of a cup of tea with pancake-like bread. The pancake bread is called canjeero. There are various ways to eat the bread. Some choose to eat it with sugar. Children are often served the bread with sesame oil and tea for a mushy consistency. The breakfast tea is referred to as shahie. Some may replace the tea with a coffee called qaxwa.
Pasta and rice are traditional entrees for the lunch cuisine. Spices such as cumin and cloves are very common in the preparation of these dishes. The spaghetti pasta in the Somali cuisine derives from the Italian influence in Somali history. The pasta and rice dishes can also be combined to form a plate called Federation. This dish combination is layered with vegetables and stewed meats to complete the full experience. As common as the meal is, it isn’t one commonly cooked in households. Rather, it is normal for guests to order it at Somali restaurants.
Cambuulo is a well-known Somali dinner dish. It consists of cooked azuki beans with butter and sugar. The nature of the Islamic religion and its required prayers affect the common dinner time in Somalia. A good amount of people dine at 9pm except during Ramadan which delays it another two hours. It is extremely popular amongst residents despite it taking about five hours in cooking time. In addition to this dish, Muufo is known to be served as well. It is a Somali version of cornbread. Somali people eat it with sesame oil and sugar then mash it with black tea.
- One of the Somali snacks is Sambusa, a triangular snack composed of hot chili pepper with a main meat such as fish or ground meat. This snack is commonly eaten during Ramadan. Others include Bajiye and Kabaab. Bajiye is a deep fried combination of vegetables, meat, spices, and finally maize. This Somali snack is native to the southern region. The other snack is a deep fried combo of vegetables, meat, onions, and potatoes. This one is also a Southern Somali traditional snack.
- There are many sweets associated with festive occasions within the culture. Gashaato is a popular sweet made with sugar, oil, coconut, and the spice cardamom. The sugar is boiled then joined with the remaining ingredients. Another sweet is Jalaato which is similar to a Popsicle. The process to create it is pretty simple. You simply freeze fruits with a stick in the middle. This is a Somali favorite as well.
Somali food has shown to represent the blend of outside influences it has experienced with other countries. Their cuisine is well loved by their people even those who move abroad. All of these beautiful taste wonders are perfect to get a glimpse of true Somali cuisine.