Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Somalian Shahan Ful (Fava Beans in Xawash Tomato Sauce)

Refugee Week is a continuation of World Refugee Day and marks a collective acknowledgement across the world to raise awareness  of the plight of refugees and asylum seekers across the world.   

The theme for Refugee Week for 2016 is Welcome.  As my blog is a vegetarian food blog my Simple Act is to Cook A Dish from Another Country and try and raise some awareness that way among some colleagues and some of my readers.
Today I will share a vegetarian Somalian dish, that also happens to be vegan.  It is Shahan Faul, Ful Sahan.  This is a bean dish that is also very common in Eritrea, Ethiopian and Sudan.  But before I share the recipe, you may be interested to know that Somali's have been in the U.K for over a century, arriving here as merchant seamen and settling in port cities like Bristol, Liverpool and Cardiff.  However, it was in the 1990s following famine and further conflict in the region in 2011 that many Somalis began to arrive in the UK after being granted with a refugee status.  

A refugee is "a person who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of 'race', religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it" 

The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. 
So back to the recipe...when I originally asked a Somalian colleague in my workplace could he give or suggest to me a vegetarian recipe that I could cook at home and he immediately put his hand to his mouth and tried to contain the roar in his laughter - we are big meat eaters.  

This is true, Somali cuisine is meat orientated.  Vegetarianism is quite rare.  Vegetables appear to largely be side dishes, or a combination of meat and vegetables.  By the way, you may be interested to know that in Somalia pasta features quite a bit a part of their cuisine. This arrived with the Italians n the 1880s and sweet dishes came with the Arabs.
Anyway, after musing at my question he mentioned this fava bean dish and here it is a bronze gold bowl of loveliness.  Ful Sahan is often served with anjara, injera bread or Sabaayad which is made with a sourdough starter, but we had it with chewy brown rice.  The slow cooking of the sauce intensified the flavour and made the beans soft inside, but still retaining its wholesome shape.  I totally loved it and could have just easily eaten this from a bowl.  I am sharing this with My Legume Love Affair #96 hosted by Lisa's Kitchen;  and No Croutons Required.
Other related posts 
Syrian Cauliflower Zahra Mnazalet
Zimbabwean Roasted Squash

Somalian Shahan Ful, Ful Sahan (Fava Beans in Xawash Tomato Sauce)
Serve 4
150g whole dried fava beans from Hodmedod, soaked overnight then cooked in boiling water until tender.  
Drain and set aside.
This is not a sponsored post

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, finely slices
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tablespoon Xawaash (Somalian spice mix) or Berbere (Ethiopian - Eritrean spice mix)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 x 400g tinned tomatoes, chopped
100ml water
Salt to taste
Handful of fresh coriander, minced
In a wide pan, heat the oil and then saute the onion and garlic until really tender, then stir in the spices, saute for a few minutes before stirring in the tomatoes.  Put the lid on and allow to cook until the tomatoes are falling apart, then stir in the cooked beans and water.
Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and cook on low heat for 20 - 30 minutes.
Stir in the coriander and serve with Anjero bread or brown rice. 
Adapted from The Somali Kitchen and Xawaaash - Somali Food Blog.


  1. A wonderful recipe again! It's nice to see all the different international flavours.

  2. Fantastic way to celebrate refugee week - lovely dish and lovely story of spending time learning about other cultures.

  3. I've heard of Berbere, but I've not come across Xawaash before. I wonder what's in it? Presumably it's a little like Ras al Hanout (in that it's not a fixed recipe)?

    1. Click on the link in my recipe and you will see the ingredients Mark. My understanding is yes, its not fixed - varies from family to family

  4. What a great idea / initiative - and a great recipe. I hadn't heard of refugee week (which seems terrible to admit) or this dish!

  5. I love learning about new dishes. Sounds and looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing with MLLA.

  6. Ahahaha I suppose he would have found your question quite funny. I didn't realize they were such meat eaters. This fava bean recipe sounds lovely =)


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