SOMALIA: Oat + Goat Soup (Shurbad)
Here’s what we learned about Somalia in our research this week:
- Somalia has a huge nomadic population and they eat primarily goat and camel meat.
- The northern part of Somalia declares itself independent as Somaliland, but is unrecognized by most of the rest of the world. That part of Somalia was ruled by Britain until 1960.
- The southern part of Somalia was ruled until 1960 by Italy. Therefore, pasta is incredibly popular in Somalia – some even suggest that pasta is the national dish of Somalia!
- Somalia is 99% Muslim – the vast majority being Sunni.
- Ramadan is observed throughout Somalia whereby fasting is observed during daylight hours for close to a month. Upon breaking the fast, many Somali families eat a very filling and hearty soup of goat and oats.
- Doing a Google search of images of “Somalia kids” is not advised unless you (a) have tissues at hand, (b) are prepared to answer a lot of questions from your kids about starvation, and (c) can stomach it.
- The recipe we chose would traditionally be eaten with hands by using a pancake like bread to grab little handfuls. I couldn’t find (and honestly, didn’t have the gumption to try) a gluten free version of this bread, so we went with rice instead. If you can eat gluten, here’s a great looking recipe!
So, it turns out that finding a Somali soup that can be verified to be a true and traditional soup of Somalia was quite a challenge. There are many wonderful Somali cooking blogs out there, but I couldn’t find a “official” source of Somali recipes to cross check any of the recipes I found online. Which led me into an interesting line of thinking about how the internet works and what people find online tends to be taken as gospel truth simply because it was found online. And I then realized that once I post this recipe out there on the interwebs, I will, in fact, be just as much an authority on Somali soups as anyone else who has ever put a recipe for Somali soup online. Wacky.
Anyway, I finally settled on two recipes I could vouch for the authenticity of and gave Calvin a choice between lamb shoulder stew and goat + oat stew. I was surprised when he chose the goat + oat, worried about how it would come out, and nervous about our friends coming over to join us with their two little boys. I should not have worried:
The enthusiastic response was immediate and all 4 boys went in for 2nds and one went for 3rds. Plus, my two boys had leftovers in their lunch boxes yesterday and both ate every bite while bragging to their friends (and intentionally grossing out the girls) about eating goat stew. Which reminds me… you don’t have to use goat. It is the traditional meat for this dish, but you could also use lamb or beef if you desire. If you’re really not into goat, don’t let the goat stand in the way of making this incredible soup – go ahead and use a different meat. I won’t tell anyone.
This soup is simultaneously simple and complex; hearty, but not rich. It is easy to make (once you’ve made the spice mix) and quick enough for a school night dinner. We served it with Somali rice, spice encrusted goat, and a DELICIOUS coconut hot sauce. For a quick an easy dinner, I might make a simple salad of cucumber and tomato to eat with this soup and call it a night. We will be making this one again for sure.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 pound ground goat meat (you can use lamb instead if you desire or beef if you don’t like goat or lamb)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon xawaash spice (see recipe below)
- 2 boullion cubes (preferrably HerbOx)
- 8 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (Trader Joes and Bob’s Red Mill have gluten free versions)
- Juice of one lemon
- Heat oil in large soup pot. Add goat meat and brown. Add onion and cook until the onions are translucent. Add garlic, tomatoes, and xwaash bariis- stir for 2 minutes.
- Add water, boullion, and oats. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Using an immersion blender or a regular blender blend soup until smooth.
- Add lemon juice and check for seasoning adding more xawaash bariis or salt as needed. I mixed a little olive oil and xawaash bariis to make a sauce I could drizzle on top for a little color.
All adults and 2 of the kids at the table though the coconut hot sauce (recipe below) brought this recipe to the next level. Feel free to use a different meat if you desire. I won’t tell anyone.
Somali Spice Mix (Xawaash Bariis)
Makes about 1 cup
- 1/4 cup cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 24 cardamom pods
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- Add all ingredients except last three to small frying pan and heat, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes until very fragrant. Cumin seeds will burn quickly if not attended to.
- Place all ingredients in a spice grinder (I use a coffee grinder) and grind into a fine powder.
- Pour into a glass jar and add ginger powder, nutmeg and turmeric powder. Place lid on jar and shake until all spices are well incorporated.
- 1/3 cup dried coconut, unsweetened preferrably
- 3 large jalapeños, stemmed (seeded too if less spicy is desired)
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1 small onion
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Soak coconut 15 minutes in boiling water to remove any sweetener and soften coconut; changing water at least once. Drain well.
- Add all ingredients to blender and blend well.
Xawaash Encrusted Goat Meat (Hilib Ari Duban)
- Goat shoulder or leg (approximately 3 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons xawaash spice
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons salt
- Preheat grill or oven to 300 degrees (we used a Traeger smoker grill).
- Mix oil, xawaash, garlic and salt in small bowl. Spread mixture all over goat, making sure to get spices into every crevice.
- Wrap goat tightly in aluminum foil at least 4 times – making sure every seam is well closed. (If steam escapes, meat will not cook properly.)
- Allow goat to rest and marinate at least one hour. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight for best flavor.
- Put on grill (with door closed), traeger, or in oven for 3-4 hours. Because all the moisture stays inside the foil, it is nearly impossible to over-do it.
- Remove from heat and allow to rest for 20 minutes before opening foil.
- Pick meat off bones and serve.
Somali Spiced Rice (Bariis Iskukaris)
Serves 8 as a side
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 4 tablespoons ghee (or olive oil)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon xawaash spice
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup peas, more to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots, more to taste
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- Rinse rice thoroughly until water runs clear.
- In large pot that has a properly fitting lid, melt ghee over medium heat and fry the onions until they begin to caramelize.
- Add xawaash, garlic and vegetables and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant – 2-3 minutes.
- Add rice, water and salt. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer and cover pan.
- Simmer for 15 minutes then turn off stove (do not remove lid!) and allow rice to sit in covered pot another 15 minutes.