Somali suqaar! This delicious dish is known in every Somali household, it is a beautiful blend of flavours married into tender caramelised lamb cubes.
Suqaar is a popular Somali dish that consists of lamb or beef cubes sautéed with onions, peppers, garlic, coriander, spices and tomatoes until the dish caramelises together to form a deliciously flavourful dish. Seriously so good!
Funnily enough suqaar is also considered a breakfast food in Somali culture.
Most Somali restaurants will offer suqaar as a breakfast option. It’s of course filled with protein and keeps you full for a long while.
Many Somali households love to use beef in suqaar but my mother has always used lamb. Personally I think lamb is just so much softer and does not need much to make deliciously tender and melt in your mouth.
I grew up on this dish and we had it very often in our household. It is the ultimate comfort food and warming dish. It reminds me so much of my mother and my childhood.
Suqaar is also a firm favourite of mine for Ramadan. I love having this as a starter for Ramadan. I take a small amount of suqaar, some salad and some pancakes and I am one happy lady! It is my ultimate favourite thing to eat during the blessed month of Ramadan.
You absolutely have to serve suqaar with something soft and bread like. I grew up on 3 versions. Either Caanjello pronounced ‘aanjello’ which is a fermented kind of pancake. Also called Laxoox which is pronounced ‘laahoh’. The other option is a Somali style sweet crepe pancake called Malawaah. There is also a third option called ‘sabayad’. Heartier and thicker than the other 2. This one is very similar to a paratha.
For this suqaar dish I chose Somali pancakes! This is the recipe I used for the pancakes. It is a buckwheat and cassava flour based crepe that tastes similar to the wheat ones I grew up on. These pancakes are also *Mum approved*.
There are so many gluten free versions of Somali pancakes that you can make. If you are gluten free let me just say, you definitely do not NEED wheat to recreate your childhood love of Somali pancakes. Or any crepe/pancakes.
I have figured this out through trial and error when trying out so many for my dear ‘gluten free snob’ mother. She definitely approves of these so I am so happy!
Another flour I have been using recently is sorghum flour and this is also a flour used in Somali households. So it feels like a familiar texture and flavour for when I make It for my mother.
(Watch this space for a recipe.)
Key ingredients to make the suqaar perfect.
- Tamarind tamarind tamarind. I know many people do not use this with suqaar BUT this is a non negotiable ingredient my mother always used. She swears by it and never lets me by the shop bough stuff. It gives the lamb a delicious umami taste, a bit of sweet and abit of sour. Delicious stuff!
- Salt and season the meat as soon as it goes on to the pan.
- Blended garlic coriander and fresh tomato! This combo guys….this combo. It is perfection when cooked up. Every Somali household will swear by it! It quickly cooks into the caramelised lamb and onions and works a real treat.
- Using Lamb instead of beef. This is personal preference, you can also use beef , BUT lamb definitely gives you a softer chew. I just love the taste of lamb if I’m totally honest. My mum swears by a leg of lamb cut for suqaar, and now I’m an adult so do I!
- Roasted coriander seeds. OH MY GOD. If you have not tried this then. Do it now. Explosion of a spice. It is so pungent and powerful. Definitely elevates dishes. I just roast a cup of coriander seeds until brown and fragrant then blitz into a powder. Seal air tight and store as you do with other spices. It is 100% not the same thing as ground coriander you get from the supermarkets. It has to be roasted to get that real kick.
This dish is so close to my heart. Now I have geared you up on how to make this beautiful authentic Somali dish, get to making some suqaar!
Catch the full recipe down below.
Somali Lamb Suqaar
- 1/2 kilo diced lamb meat - for 1 kilo double all the ingredients. (up to 6 garlic cloves) we use leg of lamb. I just ask the butcher to cut it up for me in to small cubes.
- 1 large onion
- 1 large red pepper or mixed peppers
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 large tomato
- 1 handful coriander
- 1 tablespon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons tamarind flesh If using tamarind from a jar then 1 heaped tablespoon is perfect.
- 1 tablespoon roasted coriander seed powder Definitely not the same thing as coriander powder. I roasted the seeds first THEN blended. Big and bold flavour!!
- Generous pinch of salt to your preference
- Half a lemon
First start of buy prepping. Blend together the tomato, 3 garlic cloves and the coriander. Add a tiny bit of water if needed to blitz up into a semi smooth mixture. Chop the onion, peppers and 1 garlic clove.
On a medium hot pan, sauté the onions, pepper and 1 garlic clove. Add in the spices and mix.
After a few mixes add in the lamb. Immediately add salt, stir and let the meat cook with a lid on for a couple of minutes.
At this point stir in the tamarind. Mix again and add the lid on for a further 7 or so mins.
The lamb should be starting to brown nicely and caramelise almost. Now add in the tomatoes mixture. Lid on for 5 mins or so to allow the tomato mixture to cook down and soak into the caramelised lamb.
Squeeze with some lemon, top with extra coriander and you are done❤️.
Enjoy a little bit of home from me!