Suugo Suqaar (Pasta Sauce with Beef)

Hawa has strong memories of flavors from her childhood, including this sauce made with a Somali spice blend that includes cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, cloves, and cumin.

Suugo Suqaar
Photo: Carson Downing
Hands On Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs
6 cups


  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 3 tablespoon Xawaash Spice Mix (see recipe)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

  • Cooked spaghetti (or whatever shape pasta you like) and coarsely chopped cilantro


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the beef, Xawaash, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up beef, until meat is browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

  2. Add tomato paste and tomatoes with their juices. Fill tomato can halfway with water and add it to the pot. Stir well to combine, being sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Increase heat to high and bring sauce to a boil. Then decrease to low and simmer, stirring occasionally as sauce cooks, for 30 minutes. If desired, season sauce to taste with additional salt. Serve over hot cooked spaghetti with cilantro sprinkled on top. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to a few days and rewarmed in a heavy pot over low heat (stir while you heat). Serves 4.

Nutrition analysis including Pasta and Cilantro

Nutrition analysis per serving: 514 calories, 25 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 32 g total fat (9 g sat. fat), 78 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 8 g total sugar, 31% Vitamin A, 38% Vitamin C, 771 mg sodium, 10% calcium, 35% iron

Xawaash Spice Mix

1) Place one 2-inch piece cinnamon stick in a small zip-top plastic bag, seal it, and bang it a couple times with a rolling pin, skillet, or mallet (anything firm and heavy) to break it into small pieces. Place cinnamon pieces, 1/2 cup cumin seeds, 1/2 cup coriander seeds, 2 Tbsp. black peppercorns, 6 cardamom pods, and 1 tsp. whole cloves in a small heavy skillet over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very aromatic and spices are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Let cool.

2) Transfer mixture, in batches if necessary, to a clean coffee grinder and grind into a fine powder. (Or use a mortar and pestle and some elbow grease.) Transfer ground spices to a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and sift. Regrind whatever large pieces remain in sieve and add them to the bowl with ground spices. Add 2 Tbsp. ground turmeric. Whisk well to combine. Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place up to 6 months. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

435 Calories
32g Fat
15g Carbs
23g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 435
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 32g 41%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 78mg 26%
Sodium 770mg 33%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 34mg 170%
Calcium 130mg 10%
Iron 5.6mg 31%
Potassium 523mg 11%
Fatty acids, total trans 1g
Folate, total 12.6mcg
Vitamin B-12 1.8mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.3mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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