Recipe courtesy of Hawa Hassan


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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 40 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
Like many Somalis, Hawa Hassan cooks bariis, an aromatic rice pilaf, as a side to almost everything. It’s the perfect dish because it’s packed with flavor thanks to xawaash, a spice blend that’s more important than salt and pepper in Somali cooking. Every household has its own version, and for hers, Hawa combines cumin, coriander, peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and turmeric. “Even though I live an ocean away from my family, every time I make a bowl of bariis, I feel right at home.”



  1. Rinse the rice in a medium bowl under cold water until the water runs clear. Then cover with cold water and set aside at least 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the red onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon stick and cloves and continue cooking until the spices smell fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cardamom and cook 1 additional minute.
  3. Increase the heat to high and add the tomato and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until most of the tomato’s water has evaporated and you’re left with a jammy paste. Drain the rice; add to the pot, stirring to coat. Fry for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the xawaash into the rice along with 4 cups of warm to boiling water. Add the raisins and another pinch of salt; stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Serve with tamarind date sauce.

Cook’s Note

You can buy Hawa’s tamarind date sauce from her company, Basbaas Somali Foods (