This dish truly represents Somali and East African culture, using ingredients that can be easily found.

I learned the power of food from my father, who used herbs and spices as medicine to help others. He first taught me the importance of using fresh ingredients and treating them with respect. In Somalia, goat meat is fairly common, while beef is somewhat of a delicacy because of the high value of cattle. This dish includes tasty portions of spiced beef with grilled vegetables. Aromatic Somali rice, bursting with sweet and savory flavors, is a natural match. There will be enough rice for leftovers or large appetites, but you can easily halve the recipe, if preferred.

First, make the rice: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, cinnamon stick and jalapeño and sauté for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the onion and peppers and sauté until the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cumin.

Add the stock or water, salt and bring to a boil. Add the rice and cilantro, and bring back to a boil. Then reduce the heat to very low and cook, covered, until the rice has absorbed the water, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes with the lid on. Then fluff with a fork, remove the jalapeño and mix in the golden raisins, if using.

To make the steak sauté: Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan. Add the garlic followed by the steak and sear the meat for about 30 seconds on each side. Season the meat in the pan with the berbere spice, adobo and chicken-stock powder. 

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and mixed peppers and cook until the vegetables have softened and the liquid in the pan has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato purée and cilantro and cook until the steak is prepared to your liking and the liquid has reduced to a sauce consistency, 5 to 7 minutes.

Serve the meat atop the rice, garnished with chopped cilantro.

Reprinted with permission from The Immigrant Cookbook
Leyla Moushabeck, ed. 2018, Interlink Books, 978-1-56656-038-2, $35 hb, www.interlinkbooks.com.


Moussa Doulaeh is executive chef and co-owner of Afro Deli, a fusion restaurant with locations in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. At Afro Deli, he combines the cuisine of his native East Africa with the many flavors learned from his formal culinary training in top Canadian and American kitchens, or gathered from cooking with friends from around the world. In April 2017 Afro Deli initiated the Dine Out for Somalia campaign, a fundraiser with 50 participating restaurants, to support famine-relief efforts.