Shushumow (Somali Crystallised Pastry Shells)

Shushumow, a crisp, deep fried shell shaped pastry made with flour, eggs and water is a sweet made during festive times such as weddings and religious celebrations among the Somali people.

The shushumow also known as kalkals or zinanaande (in Somali and Barawa languages) is shaped into small balls that is flattened and curled over a fork, deep fried and then tossed in a sugar syrup.

The pastry shells are shaped using a fork and sometimes an afro comb (yes, you read that correctly, but of course use a new and sanitised one!).

Shushumow rolling1Shushumow rolling

shushumow fryingShushumowinsugar

This recipe is courtesy of Hibo Jama of MyHalwad, a great instagram page that you should visit. Hibo says that she chose the name MyHalwad because she loves halwa (or xalwa, a popular Somali sweet).

“I love xalwad. One day I was craving for it, but where I used to live there was no one who made it. They only got it from other cities. So I called my sister, and as always she told me how to cook xalwa over the phone step by step. It took me about ten tries or so, but I finally got it. Now I put my own twist on it, and that is where the name MyHalwad came from. Xalwa is one of my favorite things to cook,” she says.

Hibo started cooking when she was a teenager, but the passion for cooking kicked some years later. “Now I love cooking and baking, and I have been cooking different cuisines for the last 14 years. I don’t have a favorite when it comes what to cooking. I just put my love into whatever I am making,” she adds.

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Shushumow (Somali Crystallised Pastry Shells)

Recipe by:
Hibo Jama of MyHalwad


Shushumow dough
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon of sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup of canola oil
1 large egg
3 tablespoon of warm water (more or less)
2 cups of canola oil (for frying)

Sugar syrup
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ ground cardamom (optional)

Supplies for shaping the shushumow
A flat board
A fork or new afro comb (you can get this online). Make sure the comb is new and sanitised, and only use it for the shushumow.


Preparing the shushumow
1. In an electric mixer mix all dough ingredients together except the water (and frying oil of course!)
2. Add the water slowly until you get soft dough. Mix for about 4-5 minutes.
3. Then let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.
4. Next cut the dough into small pieces roughly 1 inch x 1 inch. This should give you about 30 shushumow.
5. Shape them one at a time by pressing the dough on the back of the fork and curl it out toward the opposite side (away from you)
6. Preheat oil on medium heat. Fry the shushumow in the preheated oil a few at time, until golden brown. Make sure you turn the pastry frequently so that it cooks evenly.
7. Take them out and place them on a few layers of paper towels. This helps drain the oil from pastry.

Preparing the syrup
1. For the syrup, use a medium size pan combine the sugar, cardamom and water together and let it come to a boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes and turn off the heat.
2. Then add all the shushumow to the pan and stir gently and ensure an even coating of the syrup.
3. Take the shushumow out and put them on a plate and let them cool down. The sugar will crystallise, but that’s part of the charm of shushumow! Enjoy with a cup of Somali shaah.

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 30 people

13 Responses to “Shushumow (Somali Crystallised Pastry Shells)”

  1. LDes

    I’m wondering how these store. Will they keep for a day or so? I would like to make them ahead of when I need them. I worried that since they are fried, they may get greasy? Any thoughts?

    • Somali Kitchen

      Hi LDes, shushumow keeps really well. We’ve had them in airtight biscuit tins for about two weeks and they were still nice and crunchy. Make sure you get the oil hot so they really deep fry to attain a good level of crispness (you will know the oil is at the right temperature when the dough floats up straight away but doesn’t burn). Enjoy!

  2. Roda

    Welldone, hebo please make sure you present a lot of somali dishes both sweet and savoury. Do not forget muqmad it’s meat and can be a good snack. You can make it from mutton or lamb as camel meat is not available in the west. Thanks

  3. Krishan Patel

    How many shushumow does this recipe make? I am doing a project for a class and I need to know how many everybody in my class has to get.

    • Somali Kitchen

      Hi Krishan, this should make about 60 shushumow, but it depends on how big or small you make them. You could end up with any number between 50-70. Cut up the dough so that you have enough for your class with some to spare. We know they don’t stay for too long on the plate! Enjoy, Krishan.


    My Mom used to make these when I was young and we love pressing the dough on a fork and rolling them into shell shapes. I just remembered this pastry and looked for it in the internet -” rolled dough on a fork into tiny shells” and I found your recipe. Thank you so much for posting. Warm greetings from Manila, Philippines. Looking forward to more of your recipes.


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