Skip to content

Somali food – history’s in the side dishes

Tom Hanchett

somaliSomalia, on the Indian Ocean in the upper righthand corner of Africa, has long been a cultural crossroads. You can taste that history at Jamile’s International Cuisine, the newest addition to Charlotte’s vibrantly multi-ethnic Central Avenue.

Jamile Sheikh fled civil war in Somalia for Charlotte. Warm climate and many African immigrants make the Queen City feel at least a bit like home. “I always dreamed of my own business, a coffee shop or a restaurant,” says Jamile. “She loves to cook,” chimes in best friend and business partner Hamsa Hashi, “but in Somalia it is hard for a woman to own a business.”

Mainstay of Jamile’s menu is suqar (also spelled sukhaar) , a traditional dish of grilled chicken or beef with onions and Somali spices, a delight to American taste buds. The menu’s variety comes in what you pick to go with the entrée.

One choice is a griddle-made bread called canjaaro or canjera. It’s a thinner version of injera, familiar in Ethiopia which is Somalia’s next-door neighbor. If you like, you can break off hunks and use it to scoop up the suqar.

Another choice is chapatti, a flatbread originating in India. Why India? Somalia is the closest part of Africa to India, and traders have been moving back and forth for centuries.

Those traders also brought another Indian side-dish to the Somali table, basmati rice.

The fourth choice took me by surprise – spaghetti! “Italians controlled southern Somalia until World War II,” Hamsa explains as she lays a fresh banana on the table. The Italians ran banana plantations in Somalia, so the two foods go together in Somali cuisine.

Jamile’s International Cuisine
Hours: Noon – 9:30pm seven days a week.

4808 G Central Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28205
(704) 531 – 1180

Center City & nearby
Carolina apple cider
Indian street food
Greens from South Carolina
Upstate NY Italian sausage
Swiss-German bakery
Blackberry memories of Brooklyn
Puerto Rican kabobs
South Boulevard, South Tryon & southward
Mexico + Greece = holiday treats
Cuban box pig
Snack foods from India
SC meets Vietnam
Little corner of El Salvador
Arepas from Venezuela
Indian sweets for Diwali
Colombian soup
Korean at China Wing
Indian food in south Charlotte
Mexican take-out
Mexican Tamaleria
Fort Mill — real Chinese
Ready for Laotian food in Charlotte?
Psst! There’s a European Market hidden just south of Ballantyne
Independence Boulevard, Monroe Road & environs
Nigeria in east Charlotte
Korean BBQ
Brazilian bakery
Secret Greek grocery
Colombian BBQ & snacks
Detroit hot dogs
New York bagels
Halal Latino
Russian-Turkish Grocery
Iran Kabobs in Matthews
Ramen in Matthews
Russian picnic fare
Armenia in Matthews
Katayef – holiday dessert at Pita Kabab in Matthews
Crispy NJ pizza comes to east Charlotte
Central Av, Albemarle Road & vicinity
Family-style Ethiopian
Dominican street food
Jamaican black cake
Somali stew and sides
Schawarma from Jerusalem
Oriental buns
Greek pastries
Bosnian sausages
‘Tis the Season for Champurrado
Latino bakery feeds a region
Taste Monterrey, Mexico
Tamales in Plaza Midwood
One restaurant, three Latino traditions
Guatamala in east Charlotte
Mexican Seafood
You buy – We fry
Dominican Deli
French/Vietnamese pastry arrives in east Charlotte

North Tryon, UNCC area & northward
Asian Moon Cakes
Mexican carnitas
Beef on Weck from Buffalo
Dominican fruit shakes, pressed subs
Mexican ice cream
Louisiana Viet crawfish
Salvadoran comfort food
NYC pastries – Lake Norman
Vegetarian eats from south India
Indian Dosa Night
Middle East via Lynx
Bahn Mi Brothers
Ethiopian sandwiches
Turkish near UNCC
BBQ from Pakistan
Find a taste of Hyderabad at Nawabs Kebabs
The Patio at Our Lady of Guadalupe
NC fish camps
Fried baloney
Grits & cornmeal
El Tamarindo
Laos in Kings Mountain
Lawrence Caribbean
Multiple Places & Food Trucks
5 eateries for Black History Month
Charlotte’s International food scene
South’s Love Affair with Soft Drinks
5 Places to “Eat Northern”
Northern Favorites: Six More Eateries
Curry journey: Vietnam, Trinidad, India
Spiedies – Food Truck
5 best bites on Albemarle Road
Lao Sausages – Food Truck
Western Indian – Food Truck
Himalayan flavors – Food Truck
Shaved ice goes global in Charlotte