Xawaash is THE staple spice blend in Somali cuisine and its absence unimaginable in quintessential Somali dishes like Bariis Iskusaris (Somali-Style Basmati Rice) and Suugo Suqaar (Somali Pasta). The word xawaash originates from the Arabic word hawayij (حوايج), which is used to describe Yemeni spice blends, primarily used for coffee, soups and stews. Since I tried it for first time, it became an indispensable part of my cooking and I have always a jar of homemade xawaash in my pantry. I even often carry it as an all-round spice with me when I travel. The reason I’m so adamant about it is because of its versatility. Xawaash’s warm and earthy flavors compliment a wide range of foods, particularly rice dishes, potatoes, legumes, beef, lamb, chicken and roasted vegetables like carrots, squash and cauliflower. —Armin Begić
What You'll Need
(21 g) coriander seeds
(27 g) cumin seeds
whole black pepper corns
whole cinnamon stick (crushed into smaller pieces)
Add all the whole spices into a medium skillet over medium heat. Toast for about 2-3 minutes until the spices smell fragrant and are lightly toasted (take care not to burn the spices; this would make them bitter). Transfer the toasted spices into a bowl and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Put the toasted spices into a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (this is the traditional way of preparation, but requires some patience and physical exercise). Grind until you have a fine powder. Sift the ground spices through a fine-mesh sieve back into the bowl. Return the coarser remains from your sieve back to the grinder and regrind. Sift into the bowl. Add the turmeric to the mixture and combine well.
Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.