3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
3 tablespoons Xawaash Spice Mix (see below)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices
Cooked spaghetti (or whatever shape pasta you like) and coarsely chopped cilantro, for serving
Place the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, bell pepper, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the beef, Xawaash, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally to break up the beef, until the meat is browned, about 15 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes (and their juices). Fill the tomato can halfway with water and add it to the pot. Stir well to combine, being sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally as the sauce cooks, for 30 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt. Serve hot over cooked spaghetti, with the cilantro sprinkled on top. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a few days and rewarmed in a heavy pot set over low heat (stir while you heat).
Xawaash Spice Mix
One 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
½ cup cumin seeds
½ cup coriander seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
6 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
Place the cinnamon stick in a small zip-top plastic bag, seal it, and bang it a couple of times with a rolling pin, skillet, or mallet (anything firm and heavy) to break it into small pieces.
Place the cinnamon pieces, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, cardamom, and cloves in a small heavy skillet set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the smell is very aromatic and the spices are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Transfer the mixture to a clean coffee grinder and grind into a fine powder (or use a mortar and pestle and some elbow grease). Transfer the ground spices to a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and sift. regrind whatever large pieces remain in the sieve and add them to the bowl with the ground spices. Add the turmeric. Whisk well to combine and transfer the mixture to an airtight jar. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.