It may surprise many to know that pasta is the de facto national dish of Somalia. We call it baasto in Somali (we have no letter ‘p’ in the Somali language).
The Italians introduced pasta to Somalia in the 1880s when they colonised the country. This dish is so popular with Somalis that you will find it served in households all over the country.
However, Italians would be a little shocked when they discover just how much we’ve changed their pasta! Somalis often add spices to the pasta sauce and it is common to find ingredients such as coriander and cumin included. This fusion is what makes Somali food surprising and delicious.
Divide the pasta on serving bowls or plates. Spoon the bolognese sauce and enjoy.
Baasto iyo Sugo Hilib Shiidan (Spaghetti Bolognese)
½ kg pasta (spaghetti)
½ kg minced meat (beef – sometimes finely diced beef is used instead)
1 onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 ripe tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoons tomato puree
A small bunch of coriander leaves, chopped
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preparing the bolognese sauce
1.Fry the onion until lightly browned
2.Add the minced meat and brown the meat
3.Add the garlic and cook for about a minute
4.Add the diced tomatoes and tomato puree and stir continuously until thoroughly absorbed. This should take about 5 minutes.
5.Reduce to low heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
6.Add salt and coriander leaves. Stir and remove from the pot.
Preparing the pasta
1.Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil
2.Add the pasta, stir occasionally to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick to the pan
3.Cook the pasta until it is ‘al dente’, which means the pasta should be cooked, but firm to the teeth when you bite it.
4.Drain the pasta, but don’t rinse as this will wash away the starch which helps absorb the sauce.