Mum Culan* was born in Somaliland. One of 15 brothers and sisters, a love of healthy, fresh organic food was passed down to her and her siblings from her parents.
Culan says “We lived in the capital city of Hargeisa, which is in the North of the country. Even though we lived in the city, my dad owned a large farm: he grew sweetcorn, watermelons, bananas – and all the different types of vegetables.
It was all organic and we didn’t have a fridge or freezer so the food we ate was incredibly fresh – it was like it went from the farm, straight to our mouths”.
“I grew up in a large family – my mother has 32 grandchildren! She was like the eldest woman of the family, so when we all got together for parties and festivals it was my mother who would do all of the cooking. I learned a lot of things from her, I make them for my kids and pass on those recipes”.
Having grown up with a diet of exclusively organic food, Culan is passionate about helping her children learn about healthy food for themselves. “They ask me “mum, why do we eat organic food?” and I tell them to find out for themselves – go onto the internet and find out what junk food like burgers and chips does to you, then find out what eating fresh organic fruit and vegetables does to you – then make your decision!”
Culan likes to help her children make healthy food choices “before they leave for school in the morning they write down what they’d like me to make for dinner, then when they come home it’s there for them. I didn’t have sweets when I grew up and neither have they, so they prefer to choose healthy food now”.
*name has been changed to protect identity
Inspired by Culan’s love of organic vegetables, here is a recipe for Somali stew:
500g sweet potato, cut into cubes
150g broccoli, cut into florets
200g can diced tomatoes
200g green beans
200g can haricots beans (or any kind of beans)
1 onion, diced finely
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 green chillies, diced finely (optional)
Half a cup of water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
Place all the ingredients in one pot and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked through, but still firm.
Serve with rice – Culan’s favourite