grilling mishaki

And the Oscar goes to.. Somali grilled ground meat skewers

For a friend’s Oscar viewing party, everyone brings something at least loosely tied to a movie.  Italian food from American Hustle or Wolf of Wall Street was popular, with a pizza roll, and chicken picante. We also had blackberry buckle (12 Years a Slave), cheesecake (I don’t remember what that was for), flavored popcorn (Nebraska), and my wife’s reproduction of Milk Bar’s Crack Pie.

I made Mishaki, Somali grilled ground meat skewers, for Captain Phillips, adapted from a few websites, and Shidni, a tomato-tamarind-date chutney to dip them in. Captain Phillips didn’t win any awards, but this dish is a winner.  Mildly spicy grilled meats, with a zippy sauce. The weather in Chicago had warmed enough that standing outside to turn the skewers wasn’t going to result in frostbite, and they’d cook adequately with the cover closed.  I’d grill them with the cover open in warmer months.

Are they authentic Somali recipes?  Probably about as much as any Hollywood depiction.  But they were delicious.

Recipe: Mishaki – Somali Grilled Ground Meat Skewers

1.5 lb (650-700g) ground beef (80% lean) – would probably be great with lamb or chicken too
1 small onion, grated
2 small cloves of garlic, grated on microplane
1 tsp (5ml) berbere seasoning
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) cumin
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) coriander
1 tbs (15ml) potato flour or cornstarch
2 serrano chilies, grated
1/4 (60ml) cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tbs (15ml) olive oil
3/4 tsp (4ml) salt

  1. Combine all ingredients but the meat and mix well
  2. Mix the meat into the mixture thoroughly, and allow to sit for an hour (now would be a good time to make the Shidni, below)
    meat mixture
  3. Make sure grill is clean and oiled.
  4. Light charcoal or gas grill, if gas, heat on high.
  5. Form into 24 small, chubby sausage-shaped pieces, put three on each of eight bamboo skewers
  6. Turn gas down to medium, or move charcoal to one side, and grill for four minutes on each side. Turn carefully, because they’re fragile.
    grilling mishaki
    see the fun of grilling in winter in Chiberia
  7. Serve with Shidni — I was packing these up to take to the party, never got a picture of serving them over shredded lettuce with the sauce in the middle.


Recipe: Shidni – Somali Tamarind-Date-Tomato Chutney

2 Tbs (30ml) tamarind paste
1/2 of a 14oz/400g can whole tomatoes (I used San Marzano Cherry Tomatoes), drained
4-6 hot chiles, stems removed (I used a mix of green serranos and red thai)
1/4 cup (120ml) diced dates
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp (5ml) Berbere spice mix
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) salt
4 tbs (15ml) olive oil, divided

  1. Combine all ingredients except oil in blender, blend until smooth
  2. Heat a small saucepan on medium.
  3. Add 1 tbs oil to pan and add blended (blent?) mixture
  4. Stir constantly for three to five minutes, until thickened and slightly darkened.
  5. Add about 3tbs olive oil to make it a little more liquid (not part of the original recipe, but the sauce was otherwise too thick, more of a spread than a dip)

Makes about 3/4 cup sauce