Introduction to Food from Somalia

Somali food sampler on somali bread, close-up
Somali food sampler on somali bread. Andre Baranowski / StockFood Creative / Getty Images

For anything related to food from Somalia, or simply Somali food, my first stop has always been The Somali Kitchen, which is an exciting website dedicated to Somali food and culture. As soon as you see the site, you get a burst of all the influences seen in Somali food. Arab, Persion, Indian and Italian nuances, amongst other flavours from the Horn and East of Africa, come to the forefront of Somali food culture.

From koftas to curry, salad, crepes and even fried coffee, there is no doubt that jumping into the world of Somali food will be an excitable addition of zing into your kitchen! 

When I contacted one of the founders of the Somali Kitchen, Abderazzaq, he had no doubt I would enjoy Somali food. And he was right. Weeks of dedicated desktop research has helped me to frame a snapshot of what Somali food is all about at an introductory level. I therefore give you a list of Somali foods to try.

1.  Sambusa

Sambusa is a triangular fried pastry dish often filled with spicy minced meat or vegetables. It is very similar to the Indian samosa. If you have guessed cardamom as the dominant spice in this dish, you have guessed very well. Try this recipe written by MySomaliFood.

2. Bariis Ishkukaris

Bariis iskukaris, I would say, is very similar to a rice dish called pilau. It is seasoned with fragrant spices and cooked in meat broth and generally speaking, tomatoes are added to the dish, just the way the Somali Kitchen does it, making for a superbly tasty meal.


3. Malawah

I can not say much mre about this dish other than tell you it is just as easy to make as pancake.

4. Anjero

Anjero is similar to the Ethiopian injera with the main different being the size and how it is eaten. Anjero is usually a fraction of the size of injera and Somalis love to eat it with honey spred drizzled over it.

5. Halwa

Halwa or xalwo is a festive sweet treat reserved for special occasions, and is quotidian wedding treat. With the main ingredients including sugar, butter and oil, this may be a trreat you would only want to indulge into once a while. For a manageable recipe, try this one over at Xawaash.

6. Somali Chai Tea

Who wouldn't enjoy a cup of tea?

7. Sabaayad

Sabaayad is a flat bread, the Somali version of chapati. It is yet another Somali dish which can be eaten for breafast, lunch or dinner. The Somali Kitchen cleverly paired together sabaayad and a dried meat delicacy to make a breakast on the go!