This Xawaash spice recipe is an excellent way to enhance the flavors of your food. It comes together in a few minutes, plus, you can be sure that you are using all-natural ingredients!!
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Using homemade spice blends is an easy way to add flavor to vegetables, meat, fish, chicken, rice, salads, and more! And just like pilau masala, spekulaas spice mix, chips spice, and burger seasoning, xawaash is very easy to prepare and only requires a few minutes to make.
This spice blend takes me back to Nairobi's Eastleigh area (also known as little Mogadishu), where I had my first bite of xawaash-spiced bariis rice. If you are looking for a spice mix that you can use with just about anything, then this is the blend for you. Sounds interesting? Let's find out some more.
what is xawaash
At the heart of almost all Somali kitchens, lies a jar or box of some aromatic Xawaash spice. The name derives from the Arabic name Hawaij which simply means mixture, in Arabic. Somali xawaash (pronounced haw-ash) is very much related to the Yemeni and Israeli Hawaij, with a few variations in ingredients. Normally, Xawaash is available to buy online as well as in most Somali shops.
Making xawaash is highly individualized; and how to make it tends to vary from family to family. Similar to garam masala, it is also a spice that has so many uses in the kitchen. Okay, we now know what it is, let’s dive into what it is made of.
This segment explains the best ingredients for making xawaash, as well as possible substitutions. For measurements and the full step-by-step instructions, see the recipe card provided at the bottom of this page.
Somali Xawaash is a blend of warm spices comprising the following ingredients:-
- whole spices - the whole spices, which we are going to slowly roast in this recipe, bring out the best aroma. In this regard, you will need some cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks (cut into small pieces), black peppercorns, cloves, cardamon, bay leaves, and star anise.
- ground spices - you will also require some ground nutmeg, chili powder (optional), and turmeric powder.
Variation : try adding a teaspoon of mace (a spice that is very similar to nutmeg) to the blend.
how to make xawaash
This is a summary of how to make xawaash spice. See the detailed instructions and how to store it in the recipe card provided below.
- Break the cinnamon sticks into smaller pieces. Transfer all the ingredients except for the turmeric, ground nutmeg, and red chili powder (optional) to a pan and roast under low to medium heat.
- Next, allow the roasted spices to cool, then grind them using a pestle and mortar, or a spice or coffee grinder. Add the turmeric, nutmeg, and chili powder then combine.
- Transfer your xawaash spice to suitable airtight containers and store in a cool and dry place.
When you are done making this xawaash spice, try out my delicious Kenyan pilau recipe!
The good news is that you can incorporate this aromatic spice blend into just about any meal. In Somali, Xawaash is used to make dishes such as bariis, digaag qumbe, and suugo sugaar. You can also use it to season your meats, rice dishes, sauces, and soups. Plus, it makes the perfect dry rub, for grilling.
This xawaash recipe makes 40 servings, each comprising one teaspoon. Like with most homemade recipes, how much of it you use will depend how seasoned you like your food. So simply go ahead and use as much or as little as you like!
Great news, you have made it this far which means you probably made or are making this xawaash spice mix! It would go a long way if you could leave a ⭐rating on the recipe card or comment in the comments section below.
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- 4 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 4 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 4 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
- 1½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoon cloves
- 1½ teaspoon cardamon
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 2-3 star anise
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
- Gather all your spices. Break the cinnamon sticks into smaller pieces.
- Transfer all the spices except for nutmeg, turmeric, and red chili powder (optional) to a pan and roast under low to medium heat.4 tablespoon cumin seeds, 4 tablespoon coriander seeds, 4 tablespoon fennel seeds, 2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds, 1½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1½ teaspoon black peppercorns, 2 teaspoon cloves, 1½ teaspoon cardamon, 3-4 bay leaves, 2-3 star anise
- Next, tip the roasted spices to a plate and allow them to cool. Once cooled, grind the spices using a pestle and mortar, or a spice or coffee grinder.
- Transfer the ground spices to a bowl and add the ground turmeric, nutmeg, and chili powder (optional), then mix. Transfer your xawaash to a spice jar or a suitable airtight container and store it in a cool and dry place for use immediately, or later.1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- This recipe makes 40 servings, 1 teaspoon each. Adjust the amount you use accordingly, depending on how well seasoned you like your food.
- Store your xawaash spice mix in an airtight jar or container and keep it in a cool and dry place. It will keep for at least 6 months, or slightly longer, depending on how warm or cold your kitchen is.
- The chili powder is optional in this recipe, feel free to leave it out, or use more or less of it, depending on how spicy you like your food.