The cuisine of Somalia, which varies from region to region, is a mixture of diverse culinary influences. It is the product of Somalia’s rich tradition of trade and commerce. Despite the variety, there remains one thing that unites the various regional cuisines: all food is served halal. There are, therefore no pork dishes, alcohol is not served, nothing that died on its own is eaten, and no blood is incorporated. Qaddo or lunch is often elaborate.
Varieties of ‘bariis’ (rice), the most popular probably being basmati, usually act as the main dish. Spices including cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and garden sage are used to add aromas to these different rice dishes. Somalis serve dinner as late as 9 pm. During Ramadan, the evening meal is often presented after Tarawih prayers; sometimes up to 11 pm.
‘Xalwo’ (halva) is a popular confection reserved for special festive occasions, such as Eid celebrations or wedding receptions. It is made from corn starch, sugar, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and ghee. Peanuts are also sometimes added to enhance texture and flavour. After meals, homes are traditionally perfumed using frankincense (lubaan) or incense (cuunsi), which is prepared inside an incense burner referred to as a dabqaad.
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