Tag Archives: somalia

Somali Famine Fundraiser Dinners

Thanks to your support, the dinners that we organized in September to raise money for the famine in the Horn of Africa were very successful. We were able to send $2400 to the American Refugee Committee who are working on the ground in Somalia, we also introduced some new people to Somali food, connected with the Somali community and had wonderful feedback on Nadira’s delicious cooking.

fundraiser for somali famine

Sadly the famine continues to claim the lives of innocent children and we wanted to do more to support the victims of the famine. At this time of Thanksgiving when we give thanks for the food on our plates, please consider making a donation to the American Refugee Committee or attending one of our upcoming fundraiser dinners. The ARC are working very hard to improve conditions in the refugee camps and our assistance can help them to make a difference.

Here is a recent update on conditions from the ARC program director in Somalia:

“Fleeing for their life, many of the families have trekked for days before reaching Mogadishu. They left behind almost all of their household effects. They arrived in waves, populating spontaneously created internally displaced person (IDP) settlements within the city. They hardly come with containers to collect and store water, utensils to cook food, or spare clothes to replace the ones they’ve been wearing for days and weeks. Most of the temporary settlements still lack sanitary facilities. The IDPs who ended up in urban settings faced serious problems in finding proper open space to relieve themselves – in fact, women have to wait until sunset to venture out of the squalid settlements to answer nature’s call. Owing to shortage of water and the absence of latrines, many people are unable to bathe for extended periods of time.”

“After four months of sustained relief assistance by the international community, the drought and famine continues to ravage southern Somalia – and Mogadishu. Currently, there are more than 300 IDP settlements scattered all over Mogadishu. The conditions of many of these are quite squalid, crowded and with poor hygiene. The conditions are more stabilized in the major camps such as Badbaado, Rajo, and Taribunka (where ARC is working). In the latter two, many households are still without shelter, water, sanitation and food.  Many of the smaller settlements are without shelter and are not benefiting from regular food and water distributions. There is a huge gap between the resources available and the needs prevailing on the ground.”

The dinners will be held at Solay Bistro on December 7th and 14th at 7pm. Tickets are available online and are priced at $35 per person. There will be plenty of dishes for vegetarians.

The buffet style dinner will (almost certainly) include the following:

– Slow-cooked Somali rotisserie chicken
– Roasted goat
– Sabaya bread (think chapati, but better!), and injera bread (a spongy Ethiopian bread, eaten with a special spicy injera sauce)
– Beef suqaar (similar to a mild chicken curry)
– Solay’s special cardamom rice
– A selection of vegetable dishes including curried chickpeas, lentils, and cabbage
– Fata Muus (a sweet mix of sabaya, honey, butter, and bananas)
– Somali Chai

We look forward to seeing you there, and look forward to sharing some of the best of Somali food in Columbus with you while supporting a great and urgent cause.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

To learn more about Solay Bistro, see here (alt.eats), here (Columbus Alive review), or here (Urbanspoon reviews). Believe them, it’s that good!

 

Calanley Restaurant

Cuisine: Somali
3149 Cleveland Ave.
263-3530

Click here to map it!

Having driven past Calanley quite a few times, we’ve always felt a vague sense of unease about the place based upon its exterior appearance – there’s just something foreboding about the windowless building.

This unease appeared to be mutual, at least at first – it seemed as though Calanley may have never served non-Somalis prior to our visit. We definitely sensed a bit of anxiousness initially.

Especially from the poor man at the counter… our presence seemed to completely blindside him. His job was to take our order, and he seemed frustrated by, at minimum, our shared inability to bridge the language divide.

Thankfully, frustration led to resourcefulness.  He tapped an English-speaking Somali customer for assistance, and called on an English speaking employee from the kitchen. With their help, everything came into focus.

Turns out that Calanley is primarily frequented by regulars – unsurprisingly, almost all Somali. These customers know the offering (and the language), so there is little use for a menu. An out-of-date English-language menu was searched for and found, though, and after a few tries we managed to select items off of it that were still currently being served.

We ordered the ‘chicken steak’, KK (kimis & kalaankal), and Ethiopian anjera with beef stew, and took our seat.  Complimentary bananas, juice, and bottled water came out shortly thereafter.

Calanley’s interior is basic, and the ambience was based largely around a television playing what appeared to be recordings of prayer ceremonies during the hajj.  This led us to recall that there was a separate exterior entrance for ‘families and ladies’ that opened into another smaller (closed off) dining room… we wondered if our female dining companion’s presence in the larger dining room might be causing distress.  We concluded that it probably wasn’t, at least if the remainder of our time there was any indication.

Our meals arrived quickly, and as seems to be the norm with Somali restaurants, portions were generous.  We tried the ‘chicken steak’ with rice first. This was very similar to African Paradise’s chicken preparation, which is to say it was cut into strips and similar to an Indian tandoori mixed with sauteed onions.  Roundly enjoyed.

Next, the KK.  In some of our early research, we came across a thread on a Somali web forum that discussed Somali food/restaurants in Columbus.  In it, Calanley was widely thought to be *the* place for KK.  Underneath the lettuce was kimis (thin strips of flat bread) and kalankaal (seasoned cubed beef) mixed together in a thick, tomatoey sauce. We found it to be enjoyable, but perhaps a bit less so than the chicken.

Finally, we tried the anjera with beef stew.  This was quite a spread – stew, salad, a wickedly spicy hot sauce, and a hard boiled egg, all atop a massive piece of anjera (also known as injera, a spongy Ethiopian flat bread).  The anjera seemed a bit on the mushy side, and the stew was fine if unexceptional… we probably wouldn’t build a return trip around it.

While we walked in to an atmosphere of concern at Calanley, we left to smiles.  We liked the place, and appreciated the efforts they went to in accommodating us.  Once we were able to express our interest in their food, everything else fell into place.  Suffice it to say that any cultural observations above (as with all cultural observations on this blog) are recounted solely for the purpose of providing practical insights for the uninitiated.

We were unable to evaluate the vegetarian friendliness of the offering due to the menu situation, but all dishes discussed contained meat, as seems to be the case with Somali cuisine more generally.  There was nothing posted to indicate halal preparations, but we’d wager it probably all is.

Banadir Cuisine

Cuisine: Somali
3246 Cleveland Avenue
(614) 268-0933
Hours: lunch & dinner (we didn’t see posted hours)

Click here to map it!

Subtitle: In Which We Learn About The Proper Time Of Day To Go Out For African Food

We entered the well-worn dining room of Banadir Cuisine to warm welcomes from the staff, and were promptly shown to our table. Baskets with utensils, napkins and complimentary bananas arrived with the menus.

The menus, here as in every other African restaurant we’ve been to, are notable for their bias towards lunchtime – that is to say, the lunch selection is usually 3-4 times larger than that of the dinner menu. A lot of the lunch items sounded awfully good, but so it goes… it’s dinner, we’re here, and we’re hungry.

We ordered the fish steak, beef steak, and the chicken suqar.  All of the dishes came with the option of jabati, rice, or spaghetti, and when we asked for jabati with the chicken suqar, our server offered to have it cut into slices and mixed it in with the dish, ‘K’ style.  Why not?

We also ordered tea (served with or without milk) and were given soup as part of the dinner order.  The tea, when ordered with milk, was chai flavored – similar to African Paradise’s offering but (mercifully) less aggressively sweetened.  The soup, ostensibly vegetable but flecked with goat meat, looked innocent enough, but was surprisingly rich and meaty tasting – these guys know how to make a mean (apparently goat based) soup stock.


Upon finishing the soup, our mains arrived.  Opting for ‘K’ style on the chicken suqar turned out to be a good move – the suqar struck us as something of a halfway point between a curry and a stir fry, and the jabati bread strips were dense enough to hold their own in the mix, both absorbing the sauce and presumably thickening it.  An unqualified hit with all who tried it.

The beef steak was less well received.  Flavor was nice, with a significant pepper hit, but the consistency of the beef led to murmurings about truck-stop jerky.  It’s possible that the chewiness of the preparation is traditional, but we’re still left wondering how it’d be if the beef were more tender.

Finally, the fish steak.  This was four or so reasonably sized pieces of salmon with a heavily spiced char crust, topped with a mix of vegetables and french-fry-cut potatoes. Slices of lime and a small salad garnished. The flavors of this dish were roundly appreciated, though there was some discussion about the oiliness.

Sated, I walked up to the cash register to pay.  While doing so, I asked the owner about the reasoning behind offering so many more items for lunch.

‘Simple’, he responded (and I paraphrase), ‘Africans, in Africa, traditionally work until about 2:00-3:00pm, and then have the main meal of the day.  This generally translates into lunch for Africans in the US.  What we call dinner here is a minor meal for most Africans. Usually Americans eat dinner here.’

‘Yep, that’s us’, I chuckled to myself.

Our next stop for African cuisine will be the Calanley Restaurant.  For lunch.