Somalia is located on the tip of Eastern Africa and Somali food is an integral food of the area. The state is quite large but with a distinct difference in the cuisine. The coastal areas have a large intake of fish but the interiors have a mix of Ethiopian and Arabic influences
Classification of Somali Food
There is no distinct variation in the cuisine. But most coastal towns have a larger intake of fish and fish related dishes. These locations also had more foreign settlers and they show Italian and French influences in their Somali cooking styles. Nomads who herd cattle in the interior of the state tend to have more of an Arabian influence on their food. This is due to their wanderings over the state and the neighboring states. Northern Somalia does have strong Ethiopian influences in its cuisine in the form of local dishes that are similar to Ethiopian foods.
Historical and Cultural Influences on the Somalian Cooking Style
Somalia was a colony of England, Italy and France. When the colonizers vacated the state, a violent civil war broke out that lasted for two years. Cereal cultivation and animal husbandry was seriously affected resulting in a serious famine that lasted for several years. Due to the colonization, there are several foods in the cuisine that bear distinct Italian, British, and French stamps. But most meat dishes are distinctly Somalian in origin.
Ingredients Commonly Used in Somali Cuisine
Legumes are a staple of Somali food. The famine ensured that locals made the best use of local resources and most Somalians use local ingredients in their day to day diet. For example, rice, wheat, and beans are a staple at every meal. Chicken is eaten in simple dishes. Beef is also cooked commonly. Goat meat, milk and butter are also used in local dishes regularly. Pasta is also served at some special meals along with spaghetti. Sweets are served after meals along with special tea drinks.
Cooking Methods Adopted by Somali Food
Halal meat is preferred and Arabic methods of cooking food are mostly followed. Meat is grilled, broiled or boiled in gravy and served over wheat rotis or rice.
Traditional Somali Cuisine Recipes
There are several local traditional recipes that are served all though the year. They are-
- Malawa is a sweet pancake that is made with flour, sugar, eggs, and oil and is served with honey as a dessert or for special occasions.
- Canjero is traditional flat bread eaten for breakfast with porridge of cornmeal and millet. Injera is also preferred even though it’s made of corn and wheat flours.
- Beans and meats are eaten more commonly at dinner or lunch time.
- Fool is a dish of Pinto beans cooked with tomatoes, and onions and served with breads.
The region is predominantly Muslim. Pork recipes are not present in the repertoire of dishes. Alcoholic beverages are also taboo for Somali Muslims.