Xawaash Spice Mix

Somali Appetizer



1½ inches cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon cloves
4½ tablespoons coriander seeds
4½ tablespoons cumin seeds
1½ tablespoons peppercorns
3½ teaspoons turmeric

Makes ¾ cup. Takes 25 minutes


Put cinnamon stick in plastic bag. Hit cinnamon with something hard. Put cinnamon pieces, cardamom pods, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds in pan. Toast at medium heat for 3 minutes or until these ingredients become aromatic. Do not burn. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Add toasted ingredients to spice grinder. Grind until you get a completely fine powder.. Add powder and turmeric to small mixing bowl. Mix with whisk or fork until well blended. Store in airtight jar. Should keep for 4 months.


1) In the 11th century an architect named Diotisalvi made plans for a tower in Pisa. Workers built his tower lying flat on the ground. It simply remained to put the tower upright. But Diotisalvi went home for lunch, suffered an attack of amnesia, and never came back. So the workers tried raising the tower with a catapult, a trebuchet, with their arms, and blowing underneath it. Nothing worked. Then they hooked up 1,000 horses with ropes and lifted the tower up. Hooray! But oh no, the workers let the horses go too far forward. The tower listed at a four-degree angle!

3) “It’s mighty hard to see if a tower hundreds of feet tall is at a 90-degree angle,” said the foreman. A surprisingly erudite peasant said, “He needed to compare the angle of the real tower with that of a miniature, 90-degree wax tower. It’s easy to see if a small wax tower is at 90-degrees.” After that, architects would check to see if he “has a wax tower.” This shortened to “has a wax.”

3) Pisan anagramists celebrated this discovery by naming the new Arabian spice, Xawaash. Now you know.


– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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