Somalia is a country located in the Horn of Africa and boasts the longest coastline on Africa’s mainland. It is one of the oldest sea-faring and trading nations in the world. Some of it’s ancient trading ports include Kismaayo, Berbera, Barawe, Merca, Las Qoray, Hobyo and historically the wealthiest being the 1,000 year old city of Mogadishu.
Some of the earliest known cave paintings in the African continent are Somalia’s Laas Geel’s rock art, estimated to date back to somewhere between 3,000–9,000 BC. Somalia is among the most probable locations of the fabled ancient Land of Punt, an ancient kingdom and trading partner of Egypt. It was known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, blackwood, ebony, ivory, and wild animals.
Due to its proximity and geological similarity to the oil-rich Gulf Arab states such as Yemen, it is believed that Somalia contains substantial unexploited reserves of oil. An oil group listed in Sydney, Range Resources, estimates that the Puntland region in the northeast of Somalia has the potential to produce 5 to 10 billion barrels of oil. As a result of these developments, the Somalia Petroleum Corporation was established by the federal government. In the late 1960s, UN geologists also discovered major uranium deposits and other rare mineral reserves in Somalia. The find was the largest of its kind, with industry experts estimating that the amount of the deposits could amount to over 25% of the world’s then known uranium reserves of 800,000 tons.
The cuisine of Somalia varies from region to region and is a mixture of diverse culinary influences. It is the product of Somalia’s rich tradition of trade and commerce. All food is served halal. There are therefore no pork dishes and nothing that died on its own is eaten. Popular recipes include
Quraa/Quraac (Somali Fried Dough), Muufo (flatbread) , Lahoh (pancake like bread) , Maraq (stew) , Busteeki (Steak), Gashaato (coconut confection) and Bajiye (savoury pastry snacks). I opted to make Macsharo (rice cake), which despite me following the recipe very strictly, was a total disaster. The rice wasn’t cooked at all so sadly, it was inedible. I think perhaps the oven needed to be at a higher temperature.
Serves: Makes 10 – 12 slices
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
2 cups basmati rice (soaked in water overnight)
¾ cup coconut powder (Maggi brand ideally)
1 tbsp instant yeast
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
¼ tsp ground cardamom
1 – 1 ¼ cup water (substitute milk for water for a softer cake)
Blend all the ingredients together to a smooth batter
Add ¼ cup water if the mixture looks too thick. You need a pancake like consistency. Let the batter rest until it doubles in size. This should take about an hour or so
Preheat the oven to 180c
Brush oil over a baking dish and pour in the batter
Bake in a hot oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown at the top
Remove from the oven, cool and cut into pieces for serving