Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
This week, we find ourselves in the East African country of Somalia. Known predominantly for its oppressive government, civil unrest, and general treachery for tourists; Somalia is not a well-travelled country. It’s neighbour to the Northwest, Somaliland, however, is more frequented by nomads and tourists. Somaliland is known to be part of Somalia but it is uncontrolled by the Somali government and has self-declared as an independent state. It certainly looks to be an interesting and worthwhile travel experience:
It was hard to pin down a dish to prepare for Somalia. There was not a lot of information to go by, perhaps because of the lack of travel in the region. One food item that popped up across a few lists was Sambusas. Sambusas are mentioned as staple Somali comfort food in this article by The Spruce Eats, this list by Flavorverse, this post by World Travel Guide, this post by Best of Vegan, and this article by International Cuisine. This article by TheTakeout.Com mentions that Sambusas are often served with a condiment called Bizbaz (or Bisbaas) sauce. We used the following two recipes for our Sambusas and Bizbaz sauce:
I’d like to start by saying that the Sambusas were HARD to make. The filling was easy but the pastry wrappings were super tough. You have to find the balance between undercooked and dried out. Too uncooked and they won’t fry out right, too dry and they will break when you’re trying to stuff them. However, the flour paste works really well to seal them up.
We really did not think the Sambusas would turn out any good. Before putting them in the frying pan, we were actually feeling really disappointed. Things turned around though, much to our surprise.
The dough crisped up really well and the meat filling was so flavourful. Our Bizbaz sauce was really good as well. Both elements had some heat from the chili peppers which was nice. This dish compared most closely to our Australian Meat Pies. Those were better because the meat-to-dough ratio was higher, but the Sambusas had an overall more exciting flavour (and a better sauce pairing than ketchup!).
We listened to (and thoroughly enjoyed) this playlist on Spotify while we worked:
We watched this YouTube video while we ate:
I can guarantee that we won’t be making Sambusas again anytime soon. Way too much effort. But they are super tasty and definitely worth making at least once. I’ll be looking out for Sambusas the next time I come across a Somali restaurant!