Addicted to Somali Cuisine

I have fallen in love with the food in our hotel in Mogadishu. My amorous affair began with goat, moved to the Somali version of fried chicken, devoured the rice and perhaps might have peaked over the quality of the fruit. And that was just lunch.

I adore eating. I live to eat and enjoy every morsel that enters my mouth.

In Somalia, this was the first taste:

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Rice, with “Somali sauce” in the upper right and banana

Have you ever seen rice so beautiful? I added some of what the servers are calling “Somali sauce,” a hot sauce that seems like a blend of harissa and ketchup.

For a main dish I selected goat. M chose chicken. The other option was camel. Hopefully that will be an option again today. I would like to try camel.

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Goat

Dessert at lunch and dinner is fresh fruit. Appetizer is the best bananas I have ever had and limes. I am not a fuit eater. At home I occasionally eat a banana and I adore raspberries. I can eat watermelon or strawberries but won’t go out of my way to do so. Well, they bring out this melon after lunch, carefully draping a napkin over it to keep the flies off. I liked it. Was a tad indifferent to it, but it cleaned the palate and had a mild, fresh taste.

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Papaya?

When we returned to the hotel early (due to a failed suicide bomb attempt and a still live bomb strapped to a car two blocks away), we enjoyed a coffee, some sort of donut and samosa.

 

On the second day, our tour guide/”fixer” told us to wrap the samosa in the donut. I liked them better eaten separately.

Dinner the first night was chicken steak, spaghetti and a vegetable mix of what appeared to be potatoes, onions, peppers and carrots. It tickled my tongue so much I ate enough for at least two people.

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The spaghetti had an unusual spice to it and a little bit of meat, a tad on the dry side but in a good way. M insists the stray herb is cilantro. I wish I would have taken an after photo of this platter. The staff brought this for the two of it and I demolished most of it.

IMG_7912And then came the fruit course, lovingly and carefully covered with a napkin. I do not eat fruit. My daughter on the other hand eats fruit as if she were part monkey. I ate the papaya (? on the bottom) first. I liked it. Then switched between the mango and the watermelon. In comparison to the mango, which had a texture that melted in your mouth and a potent flavor as if someone had condensed it, the watermelon (though juicy and the most flavorful watermelon I have eaten) seemed bland.

I had noticed earlier in the day, a man in a fouta that squeezed the limes into his water. I had also seen the lime squeezed over the rice. Definitely an “a-ha” moment. M added lime to the Coke he was drinking to combat a caffeine headache. And the staff constantly offers us Coke and bottled water. And the occasional Sprite.

Our guide suggested we try Somali injera for breakfast to compare to the Ethiopian version. Our server offered us “omelette,” liver or porridge for breakfast and seemed a tad surprised we wanted injera. We ordered omelette and then he asked how we liked our omelette. His first offer was “scrambled” so I accepted that and assumed omelette was his term for eggs. He brought a giant portion of eggs, injera and, of course, we asked for Somali sauce. I really believe they make it for us fresh when we request it.

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Somali injera for breakfast with “omelette”

The injera has a crisper texture and is less spongy than the Ethiopian.

Meanwhile, at a nearby table, I watch the same man who revealed the uses for lime. He was having raw egg and honey for breakfast.

When we returned to the hotel for lunch, we dined in the fancier dining room and had no choice of goat or camel. Merely fish, chicken leg or chicken steak. But we started with a lovely cream of vegetable soup, with fresh juices: mango, watermelon and limeade. I drank them all and all delighted me.

Our dinner last night repeated the dinner the night before, and breakfast was also the same today. I must come back and try the camel some day.

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