I hooked up with my friend, Samira, who taught me how to cook some Somali dishes. I also learned traditions from Abdi, another coworker. I inundated them with my questions and they have been very generous and they graciously shared their recipes, traditions and little anecdotes with me - I am very grateful for that.
I asked Samira what Somali people eat in their homes. I wanted to learn a dish from her country, something with history and tradition. She said that, since Somalia was colonized by Italians, they eat a lot of pasta dishes, but when Somalis want to preserve meat, they prepare a dish called oodkac, which is a jerky-style meat preserved in butter. This way of preservation has been used by ancient nomads as sometimes the only way to have meat available to them. Oodkac has many uses; it is often prepared when going on a long journey. It is also prepared for wedding ceremonies. This is the tradition that Samira shared with me which I will be sharing here with you.
|Aliyah, Samira's daughter|
There is a big Somali community here in San Diego, but Samira and Abdi think it used to be bigger. They said people have moved to other states - especially to Minnesota which has the largest congregation of Somali people in the United States. They said they go there because the cost of living is lower and the job market is better than in San Diego. I can understand that, but I’m very glad I have a chance to work with and meet so many Somalis. I’ve always thought they are very happy and generous people - smart and beautiful!
Here is the recipe:
To prepare the meat:
2 lb. lean beef (use your favorite cut), cut in very small cubes
1 cup canola oil, for frying
2 garlic cloves (this is my addition)
1 large bay leaf (this is my addition)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook the meat in a pot over medium heat for about 10 minutes. When the meat releases its moisture, drain and discard the water. Return meat to the pot and add oil, garlic and bay leaf. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Fry for about 15 minutes stirring continuously. When meat is well fried, drain the oil and set the meat aside.
To prepare the butter:
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
In a sauce pan, melt and brown the butter over medium heat. When the foam starts to subside, add oil and stir in the ground cardamom. Cook for a couple of seconds longer and then set aside.
To prepare the dates for the Xeedho:
1 lb. dates, seeded
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Place dates in a bowl and mash them down with the back of a spoon forming a paste. Stir in pepper and cardamom until well combined. *Form small balls and set aside.
To put it all together:
Place the meat in a container to be preserved (I used a sterilized jar). Cover with the melted butter and top with the date balls. Store in the refrigerator or in a dark cool place in your kitchen until ready to use.
*The date paste is used to form a dome over the meat when preparing the Xeedho. This protects the meat. I only made a small quantity of oodkac and did not prepared the Xeedho so, I formed small balls and placed them over the meat.