New Somali - New to me
395 Murfreesboro Rd
I saw in the Citypaper under the new business listings this week, the New Somali Restaurant. Sometime in the past couple of months, the New Somali Restaurant opened and I wanted to try it. I know very little about Somali food, or the country Somalia. The little I do know is that Somalia is that it is in the Horn of Africa on the East Coast of Africa, is close to Ethiopia and has some similar foods as Ethiopia, and like much of Africa, many European nations have invaded and occupied this region and country. With that, there has been some European influence in the Somali food from Italy, a one time occupying force in Somalia, has brought a popularity of spaghetti into Southern Somalia. Somalia has a lot of coastline, so fish is used in the coastal regions, and inland chicken, lamb, goat and beef are available. Because much of Somalia is of Islamic faith, most foods are halal, and pork is not halal, so do not look for pork here.
So, we get to the New Somali Restaurant, and we are the only ones there at 8:15 pm for dinner. There are 10 dishes to choose from, from spaghetti, rice, chicken, goat, beef and various combinations of these. We ordered a beef with rice dish, and a chicken with spaghetti and rice dish. Both dishes came with iceberg and onion salad, a free beverage that was made up of tea, banana and pineapple, and for dessert, they brought us each banana. I googled Somali food, and it seems that spaghetti is served with banana, so that is possibly why they gave us bananas.
To get down to the food, the beef and chicken must have been baking and kept warm all day long. They were both over cooked and dried out, but seasoned well enough. It was 8:15 pm when we showed up, so we think that the meats were left over from the lunch hour, and they were not going to cook anymore because they were close to closing for the night. The chicken had a red tint to it, almost like tandoori chicken, and that shows the continuum of foods through this region from India on into Central East Africa.
The rice was basmati rice was very well seasoned with most likely sage, cadamom, cumin, possibly a little tumeric, carraway, salt, ghee and other spices I am not sure of. It is possible there was a little thyme in there, to represent a vestige of foods from the British Empire which once occupying this country. There were some onions, and what appeared to be mixed veggies you find in the frozen food section, placed on top of the rice. We enjoyed the rice quite a bit. The New Somali Restaurant offers the rice as its own dish for $4. Through that Italian occupying force, there is spaghetti in Somalia. The spaghetti here was not like the "Ragu" commercials. The was a light sauce on the spaghetti, some tomato-based sauce, but with what spices, I am not sure. The sauce was definitely made by the restaurant, and it tastes nothing like jarred sauce. The spaghetti was good too, and the restaurant offers just a plate of spaghetti for $4. It would be worth a trip to try the rice or spaghetti.
This restaurant got a pass on the Metro Health Inspection. Be aware this space is a bit "make shift" in nature with old conference room tables covered by plastic table clothes, and old convention center chairs. But the charm in this place is that it is the same story playing out since the beginning of the USA, and that is immigrants trying to make a living in this country and they open up a shop of what they know, and that would be food. The Irish and British did that with pubs in New England, the Polish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Greeks etc have done that with foods from home. It is now time for our new immigrants to come and find their way and show off their food from their homeland. Thank goodness for new people coming to the USA with international flavors. Yum, I say, Bring it on!
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New Somali Restaurant
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