There is a fine tradition in Somali society known as casariya, a word that is loosely translated to mean afternoon tea. Wonderfully spiced tea called shaah in Somali is often served with various types of sweet or savoury treats. And you never, ever have shaah without sheeko (stories)!
If you get invited to a Somali household for casariya beware that you won’t get asked how you like your tea. You will be served tea just the way Somalis like – full of spices and sugar! Cardamom is usually the strongest scent in Somali shaah. Somalis will often ask for tea that has so much cardamom that it should make the person sneeze!
Tea with milk is called shaah cadays, however, it is customary to serve black tea called shaah bigays after a heavy meal.
This recipe is from Nadia Faragaab aka the ‘Shaah Queen of Melbourne’. Nadia makes exceptional Somali shaah and always has a good sheeko or two up her sleeve!
Nadia started making shaah when she was about 10 years. “My family decided that as the tomboy in the family I should learn to make shaah. It was a way of inducting me into housework,” she jokingly says.
“I was also taught how to make canjeero (a Somali sourdough pancake) for breakfast, but I quickly realised that waking up at the crack of dawn wasn’t quite my thing. Making shaah wasn’t dependent on an early morning wake-up call so it became my thing,” adds Nadia.
According to Nadia, the interesting thing about making shaah is that somehow each cook’s tea tastes different. “It is almost as if they’ve added a bit of themselves to the tea,” she says.
Well, without much ado, here is Nadia’s shaah recipe. Make it your own! This recipe makes four cups of tea.
• 14 green cardamom pods, ground finely
• 10 cloves whole
• 2 quills of cinnamon, broken into small pieces
• 1 teaspoon ground dry ginger
• 1 teaspoon of black tea leaves
• 4 ½ cups of water
• Sugar to taste
- Step 1: Bring all the spices to boil in the water, adding sugar to taste.
- Step 2: Add the tea leaves and simmer on low heat for a few minutes or until the tea turns amber in colour.
- Step 3: Sieve the tea into cups and serve with your favourite snack.