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In Bibi's Kitchen author Hawa Hassan, who grew up in America while her family was still in Somalia, was inspired to write the cookbook because she missed the flavors of her home country. This super-flavorful and fragrant rice dish is one of the recipes in the book. Here's what she has to say about it:

"Bariis is a rice pilaf that Somalis often serve with cooked meat like Somali beef stew or stewed chicken. The mix of savory and sweet, more specifically the combination of cooked onions, warm spices, and sweet raisins, is very typical of Somali food. Bariis even makes for a wonderful breakfast with a fried or soft-boiled egg on top. Rinsing and soaking the rice ahead of time really helps the grains let go of their dusty coating and also cook more quickly and evenly. A pot of bariis helps me to feel at home and connected to my Somali family and roots even when I am very far away from both of those." –Hawa 

You can find her Basbaas Foods line of sauces and condiments nationwide and catch her show, "Hawa at Home," on Discovery+. 

For more pilaf recipes, check out Rach's Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Lemon-Garlic Rice Pilaf.


For the Xawaash Spice Mix:
  • ½ cup cumin seeds
  • ½ cup coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon bark
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric powder
For the Bariis:
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
  • One 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins or regular raisins
  • 1 tablespoon Xawaash Spice Mix (above)
  • 1 cup boiling water


Serves: 4


For the spice mix, I like to toast all the spices (except the turmeric) in a pan over medium heat. Toast and stir until you get the aroma. Let them cool, then put them (again, not the turmeric) in a grinder. Grind, sift and regrind any coarse spices. Now, add the turmeric and store extra mix in an airtight jar. 

For the bariis, place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse with cold tap water, stirring the rice gently with your hands, until the water runs clear. Place the rinsed rice in a bowl, cover with cold water, and let it soak for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes. 

Warm the oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon and cloves and cook, stirring, until the mixture smells very fragrant, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in the garlic and cardamom and cook, stirring, until they're also quite fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato and a large pinch of salt, then increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring, until the juice from the tomato has evaporated and the mixture is like a thick paste, about 2 minutes. 

Drain the rice and add it to the pot, along with another large pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring, until the mixture is quite dry and the rice smells nutty and is opaque, about 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins, spice mix, and boiling water. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is tender, about 15 minutes. 

Turn off the heat and let the rice sit, covered, for at least 10 minutes before fluffing with a spoon or fork. If you can find the cinnamon stick and cloves, fish them out and discard them (otherwise, just warn your guests to avoid eating these). Serve the rice immediately, while hot. 

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and rewarmed in a 300°F oven or in a skillet over low heat. 

Excerpted from In Bibi's Kitchen by Hawa Hassan. Copyright © 2020 by Ten Speed Press. Used with permission by Hawa Hassan. All rights reserved.