what is basbaas?

The name Basbaas comes from the Somali term for chili, but our sauces actually build on a much richer (and spicier) history. Somalia, situated in the Horn of Africa, lies between Djibouti in the northwest, Ethiopia in the west, and Kenya in the southwest, and ingredients such as turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and pepper have been central to the region’s culinary identity since the 3rd millennium BC. 

Basbaas hot sauces are truly Somali and genuinely global. Inspired by heirloom recipes, the first two offerings embody the bold flavors of Somali cuisine with a uniquely American twist—fruits, herbs and other flavors to create sweet and tangy offerings. And there’s more to come.

Basbaas is the only authentic, packaged Somali line of hot sauces and chutneys currently available in the United States. Designed to perfectly complement Middle Eastern-inspired spicy chutneys and other ethnic sauces, Basbaas is hand-crafted in small batches, and bottled and sourced in Stuyvesant Falls, Hudson Valley. The products are all-natural, locally sourced, Gluten-free and Vegan. The line is created in Hot Bread Kitchen, a non-profit social enterprise that creates better lives for low-income women and their families. A portion of Basbaas’ profits are donated to aspiring immigrant women. 

our story

“Throughout this odyssey, my mother has inspired me, my family has nourished me, and my friends and peers have supported me. I know how fortunate I am.”

  •                                – Hawa, Creator of Basbaas Sauce

Hawa Hassan personally embodies the cultural diaspora of her hot sauces. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, she was fortunate to escape the civil war tearing the nation apart by going with her mother and four siblings to a U.N. refugee camp in Kenya. After a year in the camp, her mother was eventually able to get an apartment and launch a small business. When Hawa turned 7, her mother seized an opportunity to send her to Seattle, Wash, to live with a family friend. It would be 15 years before they saw each other again.

In Seattle, Hawa was discovered by a modeling scout and over time built an unlikely career in fashion. Her mother, meanwhile, personifies strength of the human spirit: From Kenya she was able to migrate to Norway, where she opened a furniture outlet and a Somali goods store. When they eventually reunited, the two rediscovered their shared love of cooking.

Basbaas reflects Hawa’s personal passion for her culture and an entrepreneurial streak. And of course, it’s an homage to her mother. 

Giving Back

Basbaas is proud to raise funding for the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation (DHAF). Their honorable mission is to create access to basic human rights in Somalia through building sustainable institutions in healthcare, education, agriculture, and social entrepreneurship. www.dhaf.org


Dr. Hawa Abdi - 2013 Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards, Fern Holland Award

Basbaas Sauce in the press

“Hawa Hassan, Supporting Sustainable Institutions in Somalia with Sauce”

“Date and Tamarind Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Carrots and Parsnips”

“Basbaas Buddah Bowl of My Dreams {VIDEO}”

“Martha Stewart American Made 2015 Nominee”

“Hawa Hassan on creating her line of Somali chutney”