We are excited to share our newest collaboration featuring NYC-based chef, author and entrepreneur Hawa Hassan! This hot sauce boss has an extraordinary culinary journey that begins in a war-torn nation.
Born in Mogadishu, Somalia during the country’s civil war, Hassan eventually escaped to a refugee camp in Kenya with her family. At the age of 7, she moved to Seattle alone and stayed with a family friend. It took 15 long years for her to finally reconnect with her mother, her four siblings and her Somalian heritage. In the meantime, Hassan pursued a career in modeling that was ultimately unfulfilling. “Very early on, I knew it was not a sustainable career and I wanted to be in charge of my story.” Rediscovering her culture helped center her. She needed to share her rich heritage with the world.
In Hassan’s words, Somali food is a twist of “Italian cuisine and Indian sauces” and thanks to her, this cuisine has risen into the global spotlight. In 2014, she founded Basbaas, the only line of Somali hot sauces and chutneys sold in America. The flavors in this line are vivifying, blending warm spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. They enliven dishes as they bring her back to the early years of growing up along the Indian Ocean. The New York Times has described the smoky tamarind-date sauce and coconut-cilantro chutney as a “trip to Africa carried by condiments.” Her hope is for these products to be as essential at everyone’s kitchen table as ketchup, mustard and sriracha.
Additionally, her upcoming book In Bibi’s Kitchen comes out on October 13 and will continue to strengthen the presence of Somali food around the world. In this incredible cookbook-mets-travelogue, chef Hassan and celebrated food writer Julia Turshen invite you to learn about the rich culinary history of Africa. Focusing on eight distinct African nations, they present 75 heirloom recipes and stories gathered from bibis, or “grandmothers” in Swahili. They welcome you into their kitchens and invite you to learn about their nations which form the backbone of the spice trade, as exporters of pepper, vanilla, and other household staples.
Through Hawa’s writing—and her own personal story—the women, and the stories behind the recipes, come to life. With evocative photography shot on location by Khadija Farah, and food photography by Jennifer May, In Bibi’s Kitchen uses food to teach us all about families, war, loss, migration, refuge, and sanctuary. Although this book will not be in our October/November box, anyone who preorders the box will receive a golden ticket and the possibility to win a signed copy of the book, along with other coveted prizes.
It seems like Hassan is racing towards her destiny. Lucky for us, she’s decided to share pieces from her journey in our October/November CrateChef box. In it, you’ll find several Somali goodies and gadgets. Together, we invite you to try something new and add a little more spice to your life!