5 Somali Dishes that are Well-loved and Immediately Recognised by Every Somali

Somali cuisine is one of the finest in the Horn of Africa. It is the result of the unique combination of Somali culture and traditions enriched by the various influences of countries like Italy, Turkey, India, and Ethiopia. We have selected for you 5 popular and well-loved Somali dishes that you must try at least once in your life!

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1 –  Nafaqo

The somali dish Nafaqo

Nafaqo is the perfect snack for you to make at home, as it requires only a few ingredients that can be found anywhere in the world. It is made from mashed potato stuffed with hardboiled eggs, then coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried until crisp and golden brown. In Somali, Nafaqo means nutrition, which is a very on-point name for this delicious dish. In some parts of Somalia, it is common to use ground beef instead of potatoes – similar to Scotch eggs – which makes the Nafaqo even more nutritious.



2 – Sambusa

The Somali dish Sambusa

Somali Sambusas are triangular pastries traditionally served during Ramadan, but you can also find them at weddings, parties or any other special occasion. They are very fragrant and make for great appetizers or convenient snacks for when you are on the go. While they look very similar to Indian samosas, sambusas are thinner and usually filled with a meat and onion mixture, seasoned with cumin seeds, coriander powder, and black pepper.


3 – Sabaayad 

Sabayaad is a Somalian flatbread that is very similar to the Indian paratha. You can eat it with almost anything, for instance, honey, cinnamon sugar, muqmad (beef jerky), stew, or sauce. For breakfast, it is usually served with Shah (Somali tea), while at lunch or dinner it is accompanied with beef, chicken, or vegetable curries. Truly a Somali dish to try. 




4 – Canjeelo

The Somali canjeelo – also called canjeero, anjero, or lahoh – is the most common breakfast food in Somalia. It is a fermented pan bread that looks like a thin pancake, usually served with butter, ghee, or sesame oil and accompanied with sugar and tea. When eaten for lunch or dinner, canjeelo can be served with liver and onions, suqaar (stew meat), or oodkac (beef jerky). It can also be eaten with sliced meat, garlic, onion, cumin, and pepper. It is very similar to the Ethiopian injera, only less sour, smaller in size, and fermented for a shorter time.


5 – Halwa

Last but not least, the halwa is a Somali dessert that is synonymous with hospitality. It is usually served during weddings and Islamic festivals – for instance Eid or Mawlid – often accompanied with qahwa (black coffee). They are so popular that when a Somali says “Xalwaddeeda ma-cunin” (I did not eat her halwa), it means that they did not attend someone’s wedding. They are made from a combination of sugar and butter (or oil), rose water and spices: for instance cardamom, nutmeg, and saffron. This delicious recipe can be enriched with toasted peanuts, sesame seeds and nuts for extra crunchiness!  


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