(128) Somalia – Bariis Maraq (Somali Beef Stew with Spiced Rice)

A unique aerial view of the Somalin coast. Source: earth.com

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🌀️ πŸ˜‡

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)

This warming stew has a unique blend of spices sure to please a crowd. The leftover spice mixture can be used in various ways to bring your meal to the next level.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine African, Somalian
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

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

For Serving

  • 2 sliced bananas
  • 2 limes cut into wedges
  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro roughly chopped
  • green or red Somali hot sauce optional

Instructions
 

Spice Mix

  • 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!
Keyword Africa, African, Beef, Beef Stew, Somalia

Kenya Day 2 – Kenyan Pilau

Pilau is a festive and celebratory dish of Eastern Africa. Prepared with either beef or chicken, the dish has tons of seasoning. This rice dish is unlike its’ sister Indian pilau since it lacks curry powder making it less spicy.

The origins of pilau are rooted in Swahili culture. There is debate on weather pilau originated in the Middle East or Africa. However, with further research Indians/Middle Easterners likely brought this dish to Africa and it was then adapted by the locals with what ingredients were more readily available.

This stew-like meal was easy to follow along. I think I should have cooked the liquids down more to dry out the rice as it was intended. The aroma of the spices roasting in the skillet was very enticing.

We thought this meal had an awesome spice profile with cardamom being the stand out. There was a little more moisture (sorry to anyone who hates the word) than anticipated, but at least the meat was tender! πŸ˜… We rated this Kenyan meal 8.5/10

Kenyan Pilau

A flavorful rice dish with beef and hearty vegetables. Recipe included for pilau masala spice blend
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

Spice Mix (Pilau Masala)

  • 1 tsp clove
  • 2 tbsp cumin seed or 2 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp black peppercorn seeds
  • 12 cardamom pods or 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Rice Pilau

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 5 potatoes cubed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 red onions thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp ginger minced
  • 1 hot pepper finely chopped (I used jalapeno)
  • 1 tbsp pilau masala
  • 2 beef stock cubes see below
  • 4 cups water or beef stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1lb beef sirloin cubed
  • 3 roma tomatoes diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

Pilau Masala

  • Combine whole ingredients if using and place in pan on low heat. Allow to roast until fragrant.
  • Place all ingredients in a grinder and combine. You will likely have leftover seasoning- you may save this in an airtight container.

Rice Pilau

  • Heat a stock pot on medium-high heat. Add oil and allow to heat. Add onions and fry making sure to brown, but not burn them. This can take 10-15 minutes
  • Add in pepper, ginger, and garlic allowing to cook until fragrant. Then add beef, spice blend, beef stock cubes (if using), cilantro, bay, and salt. Mix well and cook until beef caramelizes. Make sure to stir often, cook 8-10 minutes.
  • Add in tomatoes and cook until their liquid has been released, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Stir in potatoes and water (or broth) bringing mixture to a boil. Stir in rice and cover reducing heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  • Mix all ingredients well and serve!
Keyword Kenya, Kenyan, pilau, rice

(88) Taiwan – Niu Rou Mian Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Welcome back to The Messy Aprons, a place where you can travel by taste buds! Today we are heading to Taiwan to try a fiery dish.

Taipei, once home the tallest building in the world. Source: Architect Newspaper (Francisco Diez/Flickr)

Taiwan is situated in the East China Sea south of Japan and South Korea, East of China. It is slightly larger than Maryland/ half the size of Scotland. Only 3% of the population is native to the region, the vast majority being Chinese. Because of this a lot of their culture is influenced by the Chinese. Taiwan sits in the “ring of fire” which makes it very prone to earthquakes. There is controversy over the current status of Taiwan and depending on who you ask the answer could differ. As far as I know some see Taiwan is independent from China, others say they are a providence of China and also referred to as The Republic of China. Nonetheless Taiwan is a beautiful place with unique buildings, wildlife, and noteworthy cuisine.

Taiwanese cuisine as some may have guessed has heavy Chinese and Japanese influence filled with the savory flavors of soy sauce, sesame oil, cilantro, and chili peppers (to name a few). As most countries do they take advantage of local resources such as seafood which is the primary protein of their diet. Rice often is at the root of the meal. Today I made a spicy noodle soup known as niu rou mian.

The dish has roots in China, however it was brought from China to Taiwan by refugees that fled China after the Chinese Civil War. Prior to this beef was not eaten on the island due to lack of resources and it was once illegal to kill cattle in China. Taiwan even has a saying that roughly translates to β€œdon’t eat beef and dog and prosperity follows; eat beef and dog and hell is inevitable.” 

So back to this dish.. this hearty yet spicy soup has a bone broth base (which was not included in this recipe- this cuts down the cook time) that gets its spice from several ingredients besides the chili bean sauce. Over time ingredients are added to form a savory soup that warms you inside and out. The recipe can be found here.

I did not have the rock sugar (substituted brown sugar) and I couldn’t snag chili bean paste in any of the local stores so I used leftover Thai chili sauce instead. This fast paced recipe over all had no mishaps, prepping ahead of time is always a way to prevent skipping steps as you go. Ian’s mouth was watering the whole time, he is a sucker for ramen-esque foods!

This was spicy enough to be noticeable, however the broth was insanely savory. The beef was nice and tender, but the bok choy should have chopped up finer. Like ramen eating this dish was a little tricky (we are not chop stick savvy) but found a big spoon helped us slurp it all down. We thought the dish was worthy of 8/10 average.

(24) Libya – Mahshee/Mahshi

Welcome back! Today we are in Libya, a North African country known for its desert terrain and oil production. Due to most of the country being made up of this barren landscape they must import the majority of their food. Part of the Sahara desert can be found in this country, the Libyan portion is known for being the harshest and driest; so dry that decades could pass without rain.

Rock arch of Tadrart Acacus. Source: Morad Momo on Pinterest

That description of Libya might have you wondering “what good can come from such a place?” Well let me introduce you to their take on the stuffed bell pepper (mahshee)! I love that this recipe comes from someone who grew up eating this passed down in their family. Although stuffed peppers are not truly unique to this country, the flavors that are packed inside are very traditional.

Mahshee or mahshi are stuffed peppers or squash that originates back in the Ottoman empire. It is popular in the Middle East and each representation maybe very unique to the region it has been made in. That is true for Libya as well, you will find in this recipe several spices and herbs to bring a fresh new perspective on the stuffed pepper.

We absolutely loved this dish! Super easy to make (a little time consuming) and full of flavor! We loved the mild heat of the dish along with flavor that packed a punch! If you are looking to spice up your stuffed pepper this is the meal for you. I was able to share this meal among friends and they all agreed it was a keeper! We rated this dish 8/10 and it creeps up into our list favorites.

To end our week we will land in Sri Lanka to try another authentic dish. We hope you are enjoying our taste bud travels.. until next time!