We asked the Abu family which five ingredients from their store they would recommend someone try if they want to become more familiar with Somali food. They suggest:

Basmati rice. Fans of Indian food will recognize this rice, which has a slightly nutty flavor. It’s used in Somali cuisine because the grains don’t stick together, Halima Abu said.

 Diced beef. This is used to make a sauce for the rice or pasta (like a Bolognese).

Goat meat. It’s the most widely consumed red meat in the world but is not a staple on most American tables.

Pasta (spagatte). Italians brought pasta to Somalia, and so you’re likely to see both rice and homemade pasta on the Somali dinner table. Somali pasta is thicker than Italian pasta.

 Spices, including cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, turmeric powder, cloves, cumin, curry powder and black pepper. Somalis also like to use food coloring in some dishes.

— Meredith Goad

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