East African Sisters Bringing The Flavours of Somalia & Ethiopia To Melbourne

MELBOURNE | Last month, I was browsing through my Instagram explore feed when a post for two interesting sounding sauces popped up. Curious, I stopped to read the caption, and by the end of it was convinced to order a few jars.⁣

The sauces are basbaas, a Somalian chilli sauce, from local startup East African Sisters. Friends Fahan Ahmed, who arrived in Australia from Somalia in 1996, and Safiya Duksya, who arrived from Ethiopia in 2005, started East African Sisters this year, after partaking in Food Network Boost. The program is a collaboration between the City of Moonee Valley, and Sustain Australia, that engages women from migrant and refugee backgrounds experiencing disadvantages and challenges in accessing mainstream employment and small business development opportunities in the food industry.

The basbaas is based on Fahan’s grandmother’s recipe, with Saifya’s Ethiopian twist. The red one (Guduud), which I used in the pasta, fresh cherry tomato, and grilled octopus dish pictured, uses dried red chilli, tomato, tamarind, red peppers, dates, garlic, coriander, lemon pepper, and salt. It is vibrant and sweet, and has a very mild heat to it. The green one (Cagaar), swaps out the dried red chilli and red peppers for fresh green chilli and green peppers. Both delicious, with the Guduud reminding me a bit of the avjar of my childhood. I can’t wait to use more of both in other dishes.

The first batch of sauces went out this month, available at Macca Halal Meats in Flemington and online through Melbourne Food Hub. Keep an eye out for the next batch and give it a try.

Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.


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