Somalia brings us to 128, an East African country positioned in the Horn of Africa. It can be found abutting Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, and the Indian Ocean. I didn’t realize this very dry, arid country had such vast coastlines (over 2,000 miles)! Another fact about Somalia is this is where the dromedary camel was domesticated.
Somalia has several specialty dishes including today’s meal and has been influenced by many cultures. The civilizations that helped shape Somali cuisine include Turkish, Arab, Italian, East African, and Indian. As many here practice Islam religion you will not find pork in their cooking. Customary foods of Somalian cuisine include various flatbreads, fava beans, hummus, rice, an array of warming spices, and surprisingly spaghetti! Mutton, beef, chicken, and even camel are proteins used. After eating in a Somali home you will likely experience the burning of incense or frankincense which is common practice.
Bariis Maraq is the national dish of Somalia and like many national dishes is eaten at celebratory events and gatherings. It can be prepared with either chicken, camel, mutton, fish, or less commonly beef and has a distinctive spice blend known as xawaash which translates to “spices” in Somali.
I was able to process the spice mixture with my cute little mortar and pestle set. Spices I was unable to get whole I replaced it with the appropriate converted powdered amount. I always revel in the toasting of spices and how it not only can transport the flavors in a dish, but your kitchen as well! As weird as it may sound cinnamon and tomato are a match made in heaven🌤️ 😇
This beef stew had a unique blend of flavors with a nice intense spice that warmed the palate. The bananas, cilantro, and lime helped tame the heat and the meat was very hearty making the dish feel like a hug in a bowl. We enjoyed this one rating it 8/10.
Bariis Maraq (Somali Beef Stew with Spiced Rice)
Xawaash Spice Mix
- 1/2 cinnamon stick broken into 1/2 pieces
- 1/4 cup coriander seeds
- 1/4 cup cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 2 tsp cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
- 1 tbsp ground turmeric
Stew & Rice
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 6 tbsp olive oil divided
- 2 sliced red onions divided
- 6 finely chopped garlic cloves divided
- 1 lb beef chuck cut into 3/4" pieces (about 3 cups)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 7 cups water divided
- 2 peeled russet potatoes cut into 1" cubes
- 1 peeled medium carrot cut into 1/4" thick half moons
- 1 sliced red bell pepper
- 5 tsp kosher salt divided
- 1 3" cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 sliced medium tomato
- 2 sliced bananas
- 2 limes cut into wedges
- 1/4 bunch of cilantro roughly chopped
- green or red Somali hot sauce optional
- Toast spice whole ingredients in skillet at medium heat for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned and aromatic, remove from pan and set aside.
- Once spices cooled transfer to mortar and pestle or grinder to mix spices well, add in turmeric after and transfer to air tight container.
Stew and Rice
- Allow rice to soak in large bowl in cold water, set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in Dutch oven or large saucepan at medium heat. Add in half the garlic and onion stirring occasionally until just starting to soften and become translucent. Add 1 tbsp of the xawaash spice mix that was just made and cook for 1 minute.
- Add beef and tomato paste mixing in well then add 3 cups water. Cover to cook until beef is cooked through at a simmer, about 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes add in carrots, potatoes, and peppers for about 15 minutes. Vegetables should be cooked and beef tender. Season with 1 tbsp salt. Thin water if needed.
- Drain rice and heat up remaining oil (1/4 cup) in large saucepan at medium heat. Add the rest of the onions and cook until starting to become translucent. Add in the rest of the garlic along with aromatic spices cooking until aromatic for 1 minute. Add in tomato for 3 minutes (should start to break down). Add rice and cook for 5 minutes until lightly fried.
- Bring 4 cups of water to boil in small saucepan then add water to rice along with 2 tbsp of xawaash spice mixture and 2 tsp of salt. Stir well and reduce heat to low to cook covered until rice is done and liquid absorbed (20 minutes.)
- Remove rice from heat and lightly fluff with fork, divide rice serving stew over. Add in serving ingredients as desired and enjoy!