The Recipe

Somali Beef and Flatbread

As a woman from Mogadishu, Somalia, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine, January 2013

Serves 5
Cooking Time 1 hr. 30 min


1 lb. stew beef
1/8 tsp freshly ground coriander
1/8 tsp freshly ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Vegeta all purpose seasoning (dehydrated carrots, onions, parsnips, msg, sugar, salt)
(substitute 1 peeled whole parsnip and 1/2 onion)
1/2 carrot
5 small potatoes
1 green pepper sliced

Just cover beef in water in a medium pot on the stove. Add coriander, cumin, salt, and Vegeta seasoning (or whole peeled parsnip and half and onion). Heat on high and cook until beef is tender, about 45 minutes (ten minutes if using a  pressure cooker.) Remove the parsnip and onion if you used those. Then add carrot rounds and potato slices. When those are half cooked, add green pepper slices. Turn heat to low when water gets low. Turn off heat when water is evaporated and vegetables are soft.

Flatbread (Chapati)

3 cups flour + extra for rolling of dough
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup hot water
1 Tbsp oil + 1/2 cup oil

Mix flour, sugar, salt and hot water in a bowl. Knead with your hands for about three minutes. It will start out sticking to your fingers, but keep kneading. After about three minutes you will have a dough that is smooth and even. (If it remains sticky, keep kneading in small handfuls of flour.)

Once you have a smooth uniform dough, knead in 1 Tbsp oil. (Introducing the fat like this makes the chapati have flaky layers.) Then knead in a small handful flour. Then another and another.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for ten minutes.

Break the dough into pieces the size of limes and make them into balls. Sprinkle a little flour on the counter so the dough doesn't stick. Roll each ball with a rolling pin into what looks like a large tortilla, using flour on the top of the dough as you roll it to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.

Cook each chapati on each side in a hot, dry saute pan for a minute or two so that the dough color lightens. Then add 2-3 teaspoons of oil around the edges of the pan intermittently, turning the chapati around using two spoons. The spinning is presumably to spread the oil on the bottom of the chapati, and to keep any of the toasted spots from burning. Also, using the back of the spoon spread oil across the top surface of the chapati. Then flip it so the oil gets a chance to be cooked into the dough on that side. The chapati is done when there are toasted brown spots all over both sides and the oil is no longer oily on the surface.

Serve beef and vegetables with chapati folded in half. Eat with your hands, breaking of pieces of bread, and using the bread to scoop up bites of meat and vegetables.

copyright Lindsay Sterling 2013