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World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Somalia

Somalia Food and Drink

In peacetime, restaurants in the major cities serve Chinese, European, Italian and Somali food. The majority of Somalis are Muslims and most of the food is halal. Dishes vary from region to region although many show East African, Turkish, Arab, Indian, Turkish, Ethiopian and Italian influences.

Camel is popular for both its meat and milk, which Somalis believe to be more nutritious than cow or goat milk. Under Islamic law, alcohol is illegal.

Traditionally, Somalis will perfume their homes after eating, burning incense on hot soapstone coals.

Specialities

Cambuulo: Azuki beans mixed with butter and sugar.

Federation: Equal part rice and spaghetti layered with stewed meats and vegetables, served with salad and banana.

Otka: Dried meat, usually camel, fried in butter and spices, very similar to jerky.

Hilibari: Goat meat.

Sambusa: Somali version of the Indian samosa, spiced with hot pepper and filled with minced meat or fish.

Iskudhexkaris: A hot pot of rice, vegetables and meat.

Boorash: Porridge eaten with butter and sugar.

Muufo: Cornbread baked and cut into pieces topped with sesame oil then mashed with black tea.
Canjeero: A small, thin pancake, eaten for breakfast or with a stew.

Malawax: Sweet, greasy flatbread, s staple of many home-cooked meals.

Lahoh: Bread often eaten with honey and ghee to accompany tea.

Basbousa: Sweet cake made from cooked semolina soaked in syrup.

Jalaato: Frozen sweet fruit on a stick, like an ice-lolly.

Lows iyosisin: Confection of peanuts and sesame in caramel.

Xalwo: Halva made from sugar, cornstarch, cardamom, nutmeg and ghee, sometimes with peanuts.

Things to know

A tip off 10-15% is normal in hotels and restaurants.

Tipping

Buying and drinking alcohol is illegal in Somalia.