This Somali Woman Is Introducing the World to the Flavors of Her Childhood

Hawa Hassan is introducing the World to Somali flavors through her line of hot sauces and chutneys.

NEW YORK CITYHawa Hassan's love for food started when she was young. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Hassan's early memories involve helping her mother boil pasta water or cooking briiis, Somali rice. When the civil war broke out, she fled to a UN refugee camp in Kenya with her mother and four siblings, until her mother sent her, at age seven, to live with family friends in Seattle. She had to wait fifteen years before she was able to reunite with her family.


It's after a trip to Oslo—where her family relocated—that she was inspired to package the flavors that encapsulate her heritage.

"I came back really full, ready and inspired, and I wanted to have a healthier conversation, about what it meant to be Somali, and I thought there was no better way to do that than through food," she says in a video by Eater.

She thus founded her company of Somali hot sauces and chutneys called Basbaass—a wink to the Somali term for chili—and began selling to stores and restaurants.

For more on her story, check out the video below.

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