Lahoh/Canjeero
Alternative namesLahooh, Laxoox, Canjeero, and Canjeelo
TypeFlatbreads/Pancake
Place of originHorn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula
Region or stateEast Africa and Middle East
Main ingredientsPlain flour, Sorghum flour, Wheat flour, Self-rising flour, White cornmeal/cornflour, Water, Yeast, Salt
VariationsCambaabur, Laxoox Abu-Beed

Lahoh (Arabic: لحوح, romanizedlaḥūḥ [laħuːħ], Somali: laxoox (𐒐𐒖𐒄𐒝𐒄) or canjeero (𐒋𐒖𐒒𐒃𐒜𐒇𐒙)), is a spongy, flat pancake-like bread.[1] It is a type of flat bread eaten regularly in Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen. Yemenite Jewish immigrants popularized the dish in Israel.[2] It is called Canjeero/Canjeelo in Somalila and Djibouti, and called laxoox /Lahoh in Somaliland, respectively.

Preparation

Lahoh is traditionally and typically prepared from a thick batter of sorghum flour (preferred flour for making Laxoox), White cornmeal/cornflour, warm water, yeast, and a pinch of salt. The mixture is beaten by hand until soft and creamy.[3] The batter is then left to ferment overnight to cook and then eat for breakfast. There is a sweet-tasting variety of the dish, one made with eggs,[1] as well as another variety that is spiced and typically eaten in Somali households at breakfast during Eid called Cambaabuur (Ambaabuur).[4] It is traditionally baked on a metallic circular stove called a taawa. Lacking that, it can also be baked in an ordinary pan.

Somali laxoox/canjeero is a pancake-like flatbread, i.e., made from a batter comprised typically of legumes or cereals other than wheat, usually due to a scarcity of wheat production.[5] The modern-day production of Somali laxoox/canjeero is relatively homogenous, but recent research[6] revealed two significant divergences: in bread formulation and in the procedure for structure development. These divergences correspond broadly to regional differences in production methods. An original framework of four production styles (“heritage,” “new heritage,” “innovative,” and “global”) illustrates these divergences in detail.[6]

In (greater) Somalia, gluten-like structure development in laxoox/canjeero historically relied on cajiin (Fig. 5), a pre-gelatinized dough made from sorghum (and/or other non-glutinous or low-gluten grains) and hot water in a manual process involving 1 to 2 days of intermittent activity. Hydrothermal treatment changes protein and starch properties, causing starch to gelatinize and conferring hydrocolloid properties which mimic gluten. Gelatinized starch provides the batter with gas-holding capacity[7] which improves the stability of the dough and the flexibility of the resulting bread. Thus, cajiin was fundamental to achieving the desired texture in laxoox/canjeero made from low-gluten or gluten-free flours, such as sorghum. In the late twentieth century, industrial-grade kneading/sheeting machines were introduced in cities including Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Burao, Baidoa, and Warsheikh to produce commercial quantities of cajiin dough. This greatly reduced labor for household cooks, however, only a handful of machines remain; those in Somaliland cities were destroyed or dismantled during conflict leading up to Somalia's civil war and never replaced. Per a 2019 survey,[6] canjeero production in southern Somalia and parts of Puntland includes the use of cajiin, while its use in Somaliland and Ethiopia's Somali State has ceased.

Laxoox/canjeero is commonly prepared using long fermentation, typically overnight for consumption at breakfast. Some cooks enhance fermentation using a microbial starter known as dhanaanis, which speeds fermentation. Cooks may manipulate the type or quantity dhanaanis or other fermentation agent (such as commercial yeast) in response to temperature changes or adjust the fermentation period.

While canjeero in Somalia is frequently prepared only with refined white flour and corn flour, laxoox in Somaliland and Ethiopia's Somali State is typically prepared with multiple dry ingredients including sorghum, maize, barley, teff, and pulses such as cowpea and adzuki beans in addition to herbs and spices to taste.[6]

Physical-chemical and nutritional characterization

Somali and Yemeni laxoox/lahoh bread is artisinal and therefore not standardized. The breadmaking process in Yemen and Somaliland is largely similar for laxoox/lahoh,[8] including the selection of ingredients, fermentation steps, and baking, as well as the ways in which household technologies domesticated in Yemen and Somaliland in the last century (e.g., blenders, refrigeration) have given rise to new techniques. However, differences are observable. In the fermentation stage, while the use of pre-gelatinized dough in the initial sourdough batch fell out of favor circa the 1980s in Somaliland, it continues to be used in Yemen. In both locations, long fermentation and a microbial starter are used in subsequent batches. Other differences are readily identifiable, especially at the baking stage. Somaliland baking tools (e.g., taawa/daawa of a certain diameter, flat-bottomed plastic cups to pour and spread the batter across the pan, and butter knives to lift the cooked bread from the pan) are consistent across households. In Yemen, by contrast, the baking pan size differs drastically depending on the number of people to serve and on commercial versus household production. In the finished product, apart from differences in size, a spiral pattern is characteristic of Somaliland laxoox, whereas this pattern appears inconsistently in Yemeni lahoh.

Cooked laxoox/canjeero and Yemeni lahoh retain a soft, puffed side that never contacts the griddle (taawa or daawa) surface but rather rises via steam under a well-fitting lid; and a browned side that cooks on the oiled griddle and is crispy when just cooked but quickly softens. The flatbread is pockmarked with holes, or “eyes,” and appears translucent when held up to a light source. A 2022 study[8] of laxoox and lahoh breads gathered from Somaliland and Yemen as well as from Yemeni households in Hargeisa showed that the breads had porous structures with a cell density varying from 22.4 to 57.4 cells/cm2 in the Somali laxoox, while one of the two Yemeni lahoh reached 145 cells/cm2.

The 2022 study showed that the bioactive content and the antioxidant activity of Somali laxoox and Yemeni laxoox breads significantly varied among households and baking batches due to the natural variability of manual food preparation, as well as in the recipes and compositions of raw materials used. Total carotenoids were highest (22.58 mg β-carotene/kg) in red sorghum flour, where anthocyanins were also found (0.32 mg cyanidin 3-O-glucoside/g), but markedly decreased by adding refined wheat flour, indicating that the use of refined wheat flour has negative effects on the content of bioactive compounds.

In the same study, a principal component analysis (PCA) underlined the main features that distinguish the laxoox breads from both of the Yemeni lahoh samples, although a Sanaa'ani style lahoh bread, representative of ordinary flatbread production in Yemen, was similar to the laxoox main group. In contrast, a flatbread sourced from Aruuq, Yemen was highly unique.

Regional consumption

In Somalia, Djibouti, and in parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, for breakfast (which is where Lahoh is typically eaten), it is consumed with subag (a Somali butter/ghee), olive oil, sesame oil, and sugar or honey or “beer” (liver and onions), “suqaar” (stir-fry meat), or with “odkac/muqmad”. Occasionally it is eaten for lunch, which is when it is eaten with a Somali stew, soup, or curry. It is almost always consumed with Somali tea.[1]

In Yemen, it is often sold on the street by peddlers.[9] It can also be found in Israel, where it was introduced by Yemenite Jews who immigrated there.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi, Culture and Customs of Somalis, (Greenwood Press: 2001), p. 113.
  2. ^ "Yemenite Lahoh (Lachoch)". Delicious Israel. 2019-01-01. Retrieved 2023-11-02.
  3. ^ "Saturday brunch: Lahoh, purple salad with ginger-dill dressing and more". Cafe Liz. 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2023-11-02.
  4. ^ "Ambabur (Cambaabur) Ambabur لحوح بالبهارات | Xawaash.com". Retrieved 2023-11-02.
  5. ^ Pasqualone, Antonella (2018-03-01). "Traditional flat breads spread from the Fertile Crescent: Production process and history of baking systems". Journal of Ethnic Foods. 5 (1): 10–19. doi:10.1016/j.jef.2018.02.002. hdl:11586/217814. ISSN 2352-6181.
  6. ^ a b c d Wolgamuth, Erin; Yusuf, Salwa; Hussein, Ali; Pasqualone, Antonella (2022-06-21). "A survey of laxoox/canjeero, a traditional Somali flatbread: production styles". Journal of Ethnic Foods. 9 (1): 22. doi:10.1186/s42779-022-00138-3. ISSN 2352-6181. PMC 9210053.
  7. ^ Pasqualone, Antonella; Costantini, Michela; Labarbuta, Rossella; Summo, Carmine (2021-07-01). "Production of extruded-cooked lentil flours at industrial level: Effect of processing conditions on starch gelatinization, dough rheological properties and techno-functional parameters". LWT. 147: 111580. doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2021.111580. ISSN 0023-6438.
  8. ^ a b Pasqualone, Antonella; Vurro, Francesca; Wolgamuth, Erin; Yusuf, Salwa; Squeo, Giacomo; De Angelis, Davide; Summo, Carmine (January 2023). "Physical-Chemical and Nutritional Characterization of Somali Laxoox Flatbread and Comparison with Yemeni Lahoh Flatbread". Foods. 12 (16): 3050. doi:10.3390/foods12163050. ISSN 2304-8158. PMC 10453120. PMID 37628049.
  9. ^ "yobserver.com is available at DomainMarket.com". yobserver.com is available at DomainMarket.com. Retrieved 2023-11-02.
  10. ^ "Hatikva market — the other side of Tel Aviv". Cafe Liz. 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2023-11-02.