Xawaash Spice Mix

26 January 2021 By

Xawaash, pronounced as HA-wash, comes from the Arabic word hawaij, and is used to describe Yemeni spice blends. Xawaash is used in a number of Somali dishes. Much like the garam masala of Somalia, the mix of flavours is truly reminiscent of many regional Indian cuisines. Like many Indian subcontinent families each Somali homecook prepares her mix differently.

Once thing for certain though is that everyone always makes a large batch so it’s on hand to add to dishes adding layers of deep, warm flavours to everything from a Chicken Stew with Yogurt and Coconut, to Somali Beef Stew or Somalian Lamb Stew. You can also toss it on vegetables and rice dishes before cooking or use it as a dry rub on any type of meat before grilling.

Xawaash Spice Mix

Ingredients - makes about 1½ cups

  • 5 cm piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ cup cumin seeds
  • ½ cup coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • ½ a small nutmeg, crushed
  • 14 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground sage
  • 2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek leaves


  1. Break cinnamon stick into small pieces using a mortar and pestle.
  2. Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat and once hot add the cinnamon pieces, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg. Fry stirring constantly, until aromatic and the spices are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add fenugreek leaves, ground ginger, sage and turmeric and allow to mix, then cool slightly.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a clean coffee grinder and grind into a fine powder, then pour the mixture to an airtight jar. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.