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Spotlight on Culture

People that call this area Home

New Americans

Refugees from other areas of the world


Cultural Profile of their country of origin- Somalia

The People, their culture and traditions- Food

Somali cuisine varies from region to region and consists of a fusion of diverse culinary influences. It is the product of Somalia's rich tradition of trade and commerce, and the countries that colonized them. Taking influences from Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Ottoman Empire, Somali cuisine is unique on the continent. As a result of its multiple influences, it includes flatbreads and pasta, curried rice dishes and samosas. Despite the variety, there remains one thing that unites the various regional cuisines: all food is served halal. That means no pork dishes, alcohol is not served, nothing that died on its own is eaten, and no blood is incorporated into the cooking of any dish.

Qado, or lunch, is often elaborate. Varieties of bariis (rice), the most popular probably being basmati, usually serve as the main dish. With Somali cuisine, everything starts with a spice mix called "xawaash", a heady combination of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, cloves and turmeric. Spices are used to aromatize these different rice delicacies. Somalis usually eat dinner as late as 9 pm. During Ramadan, supper is often served after Tarawih prayers as late as 11 pm.

Xalwo (halva) is a popular confection eaten during festive occasions, such as Eid celebrations or wedding receptions. It is made from sugar, corn starch, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and ghee. Peanuts are also sometimes added to enhance texture and flavor. After meals, homes are traditionally perfumed using frankincense (lubaan) or incense (cuunsi), which is prepared inside an incense burner referred to as a dabqaad.

Some other traditional dishes are Baasto (literally pasta) with Suugo Suqaar, Bariis Iskukaris, Canjeero (also called lahoh), Ful Medames (also a traditional dish in other countries, like Sudan and Egypt, and prepared basically the same way in all of them), Soor, Surbiyaan, Sambuusas (better-known around the world as samosas), Gashaato (or kashaato), Basbousa, Maraq Digaag, Nafaqo, and many others, including flat breads. Their tea is amazing as well. For more recipes, visit this channel on youtube.

In this video, you can see the variety of food you can find in a mall in Minneapolis, MN, home to a big Somali community- The biggest one in the Midwest:

This person goes on a food tour of Somali food in Columbus Ohio:

Another video from Minneapolis, MN:

Stay tuned for more information on Somalia, and more places and their people in future posts. Our area is blessed to be called home by many people of many cultures, and they deserve to be acknowledged.


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