Somali Rice Pilaf (Bariis Maraq) Riz Pilaf Somali البيلاف الصومالي

Somali Rice Pilaf (Bariis Maraq) Riz Pilaf Somali البيلاف الصومالي

Somali Rice Pilaf

This is not your typical rice pilaf cooked with 1 cup broth for 2 or more cups of rice. This pilaf is cooked with 2 cups broth for each cup of rice, making it a very flavourful dish. In fact, it is so flavourful that we sometimes eat with it just a banana without missing the meat that is usually served with it.

Traditionally, this colourful rice dish was served on festive occasions. It was cooked with goat broth in huge pots set on charcoal fire. This rice was the centrepiece of the meal and was decorated with vegetables and raisins.

In Somalia, the quality of the rice was not as good as what we get nowadays. Also, for economic reasons, the rice was coloured with food colouring instead of saffron, which was a very expensive spice. However, the aromatic spices, the flavourful broth, that was simmered for hours, and the amazing skills of the ladies who prepared it, transformed the rice into an amazing dish.

We could say with confidence that Somali rice pilaf is better than any other pilaf out there. We hope that you will try it and we do hope that you will agree.


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(Tbsp is a tablespoon; tsp is a teaspoon)
(1 cup = 237 mL = 2.4 dl; 1 Tbsp = 15 mL; 1 tsp = 5 mL); all are level measurements

Serves 8 to 10 people

  • ½ cup(s) (118 mL) Canola oil
  • 1 Onion(s) (chopped)
  • 3 Garlic clove(s) (minced)
  • 2 Cinnamon stick(s)
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Xawaash
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) Cardamom (ground)
  • 10 Cloves
  • 2 litre(s) Stock (hot)
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) Vegetable seasoning salt
  • 4 cup(s) (840 g) Sella basmati rice (parboiled rice)
  • ¼ tsp (1.25 mL) Food colouring (red) – Add 1 tsp water
  • ¼ tsp (1.25 mL) Food colouring (orange) – Add 1 tsp water


  • 1 Onion(s) (sliced)
  • 7 Garlic clove(s)
  • 2 Carrot(s)
  • 1 Tomato(es)
  • ½ Green pepper
  • ½ bunch (50 g) Fresh parsley
  • ½ bunch (50 g) Fresh cilantro – UK: coriander
  • 1 lb Bones (chicken) – Or beef, fish, etc. (optional)
  • 3 litre(s) Water (cold)
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) Coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) Vegetable seasoning salt

Sella basmati rice


The washed rice soaked in water for 4 hours


We used chicken bones. You could also use lamb, beef, or fish bones. Vegetarians can omit the bones and still end up with a flavourful broth.



Steps for preparing the stock

  1. In a 6 litre pot, place the onion, garlic, carrots, tomato and the green pepper.
  2. Add the parsley, cilantro (coriander), and the chicken bones if using.
  3. Add the cold water.
  4. Add the spices and the seasoning salt.
  5. Cover and simmer for 3 hours.
  6. Strain the stock.


The broth


Steps for preparing the rice

  1. Saute the onion in the oil until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and stir well. Add the cinnamon sticks, Xawaash seasoning mix, ground cardamom and the cloves. Stir well after each addition.
  3. Add the stock.
  4. Add the vegetable seasoning salt. Stir.
  5. Add the soaked rice. Stir well and bring to a boil.
  6. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
  7. After the 10 minutes, stir well, then cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
  8. Add the food colouring.
  9. Cover and cook on very low heat for 5 minutes.


Somali rice pilaf with the colours added


Somali rice pilaf


Somali food

Bariis Maraq

Bariiskaan ma ahan sida bariiska waddamada kale looga yaqaanno “Pilaf.” Waddamada kale waxay koob walba oo maraq ah ku kariyaan 2 ama 3 koob bariis ah, waxayna ku daraan biyo. Bariiskaan aan sameynay, koob walba oo bariis ah waxaan ku karinnay laba koob maraq ah, maraqaasna wuxuu bariiska u yeelay dhadhan aad u macaan. Mararka qaarkood waxaan bariiska noocaan ah ku cunnaa moos (muus) keliya anagoo marna tabin hilib lagu cuno.

Waxaa caada ahayd bariiskaan midabbada qurux leh in la sameeyo munaasabaadka qaarkood sida aroo