Italy’s colonization of southern Somalia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had a lasting impact on Somali cuisine. Pasta is just as popular as Canjeero (Sourdough Pancakes) Suugo is the most popular of Somali pasta sauces and resembles an easy weeknight meat sauce but the added flavor of Xawaash Spice Mix makes it distinctly Somali (and distinctly tasty). You can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken in place of the beef if you’d like. Serve with cooked pasta (any shape will work, whether it be a strand like spaghetti or a shorter cut like penne). If you’re gluten-free, try serving it over Ma Maria’s Xima (Smooth Cornmeal Porridge) or roasted sweet potatoes instead of pasta.

  • Serves 4


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

    BOOKCOVER In Bibi's Kitchen In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen
  • 1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped 1 pound ground beef

  • 3 tablespoons Xawaash Spice Mix (recipe here)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices

  • Cooked spaghetti (or whatever shape pasta you like) and coarsely chopped cilantro, for serving


Place the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, bell pepper, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the beef, Xawaash, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally to break up the beef, until the meat is browned, about 15 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes (and their juices). Fill the tomato can halfway with water and add it to the pot. Stir well to combine, being sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally as the sauce cooks, for 30 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt. Serve hot over cooked spaghetti, with the cilantro sprinkled on top. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a few days and rewarmed in a heavy pot set over low heat (stir while you heat).

Reprinted with permission from In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen, copyright © 2020. Photographs by Khadija M. Farah & Jennifer May. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

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