Somali loxoox is a staple breakfast food from North to South, including in our home in Hargeisa. Pronounced a bit like lo-HOH, with a raspy, heavily aspirated h that comes from the back of the throat, it’s also spelled with hs or xs or as, depending.
If you’ve had Ethiopian injera bread, this is similar – made with a mix of flours, beaten before resting, and fermented overnight or for a few days. But loxoox is more delicate than injera, in flavor and texture. Fathiya makes it with a combination of white and sorghum flours, along with water, yeast and a few other ingredients.
Since loxoox makes an appearance in our kitchen nearly every morning, most nights we hear Fathiya pounding the batter (it’s an intense process!), grabbing wet handfuls and hurling it back into its container, making a loud slapping noise with each throw.
Usually cooked on a cast iron skillet with a thin veneer of vegetable oil rubbed across it using a folded piece of loxoox, the batter is drizzled onto the center of the pan and then pushed outwards in a circular motion with a spoon, spatula, or the bottom of a cup, creating a beautiful swirl.
Once the top starts to bubble and coagulate a bit, the edges are gently lifted with a spatula or knife. When the bottom has browned and separated from the pan, the loxoox is gently removed and placed atop a steaming heap of comrades.
I prefer loxoox fresh off the pan with a crispy bottom; otherwise it softens quickly among friends. Whisper thin and full of tiny holes, the morning sun shines through.
Like most cross-cultural foods, there are a zillion and one recipes for loxoox, from Somalia and Somaliland to Djibouti, Yemen, and even as far as Israel. Locally, loxoox is eaten for breakfast with Somali tea, or honey and goat ghee, or olive oil. Oftentimes, Somali breakfasters plop a small stack of loxoox on a plate and pour tea right on top of it. The soft bread soaks in the flavor and turns a bit mushy, if you ask me, but it’s definitely a comfort food. For lunch, you might find a slightly sturdier version served with lentil or goat stew.
Around here, we keep it to breakfast, tearing off pieces and dipping them in a mixture of olive oil and honey, a combination borrowed from a dear Tunisian friend. Served with a plate of scrambled eggs, and washed down with
Do you eat loxoox / lahoh / etc.? How do you take it?
Happy Breakfasting, and have a good week!