Somali Beef Stew

I’d like to share this recipe with you. It’s warming delicious. You can adjust the spices to taste. If this turns out too spicy, just add plain yogurt. It takes about 1 1/2 hours from start serving.

  1. For the Xawaash Spice Mix:
    • 1/2 (3″) cinnamon stick, broken into 1/2″ pieces with the back of a chef’s knife
    • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
    • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
    • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
    • 2 teaspoons cardamom pods
    • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
    • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  2. For the stew and rice:
    • 2 cups basmati rice
    • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 2 medium red onions, sliced, divided
    • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
    • 1 pound boneless beef steak, cut into 3/4″ pieces (about 3 cups)
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 2 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1″ cubes (about 3 cups)
    • 1 medium carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4″-thick half-moons (about 1 cup)
    • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1/4″ strips (about 2 cups)
    • 5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
    • 1 (3″) cinnamon stick
    • 4 whole cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1 medium tomato, sliced (about 1 cup)
    • Green or red Somali hot sauce, such as BasBaas, coriander , lime wedges, and sliced banana (for serving)
  3. Special Equipment
    • A spice mill or mortar and pestle


  1. Make the Xawaash Spice Mix:
    1. Toast cinnamon, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cardamom, and cloves in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until lightly browned and aromatic, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.
    2. Grind cinnamon mixture in spice mill or with mortar and pestle until finely ground. Sift through a fine-mesh sieve back into bowl, then regrind any coarse spices. Stir in turmeric and transfer to an airtight jar.
  2. Make the stew and rice:
    1. Place rice in a large bowl or saucepan and cover with cold water. Set aside to soak.
    2. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium. Add half of onion and half of garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning soften, about 3 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. xawaash spice mix and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add beef and tomato paste, stir to combine, then pour in 3 cups water. Cover and cook until beef is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add potatoes, carrot, and bell pepper and continue to cook, thinning with water if needed, until beef is tender and vegetables are cooked through, about 15 minutes more. Season with 1 Tbsp. salt.
    3. Meanwhile, drain soaked rice. Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in another large saucepan over medium. Add remaining onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and remaining 3 garlic cloves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato and cook until tomato is cooked through and begins to break down, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook until lightly fried, about 5 minutes.
    4. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add boiling water, 2 Tbsp. xawaash spice mix, and remaining 2 tsp. salt to rice mixture and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff rice gently with a fork.
    5. Divide rice mixture among bowls. Spoon stew over, then top with hot sauce, cilantro, lime wedges for squeezing over, and bananas alongside.
  3. Do Ahead
    1. Xawaash spice mix can be made 2 months ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or freeze up to 6 months. Stew and rice can be made 3 days ahead. Chill separately in airtight containers, or freeze up to 6 months.