Hundreds of food enthusiasts and Somali community supporters gathered together Saturday evening at the Lab Theater in Minneapolis to vote for the best sambusa chef in the Neighbors for Nations Sambusa Cook-Off. The cook-off offered attendees Somali cuisine from four local Somali vendors and one eager entrepreneur, Fartun Nur, who said she entered the contest “for fun” and had yet to open her own restaurant.
The remaining four competitors included sambusa cook-off champions Safari Restaurant and Banquet Center, Afro Deli & Coffee, International Food Manufacturing, and Som America. (Pictured below from top to bottom: Abdirahman Kahin of Afro Deli & Coffee, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak with singer Hibo Nuura (“the James Brown of Somali music”), and Fartun Nur.)
Sade Hashi of Safari attributes his team’s win to a unique new guava and tamarind side sauce, as well as a passion for cooking. Each participant brought their own flavors to the all-veggie competition including mixes with lentil, guava, tomato, and fresh lemon slices. Fabulous Catering offered guests platters of berbere-rubbed halal chicken satay served on bamboo skewers with roasted tomato, garlic, and black olive sauce, as well as halal lamb and ginger meatballs. Somali sweet coconut macaroons, or gashaato, made an appearance for dessert along with little halva bites and peanut and sesame brittle.
The entire event, presented by Mosaic Company, was hosted by Neighbors for Nations, an initiative that has brought together the Somali diaspora community, the American Refugee Committee, and Minnesotans to create change both here at home and in Somalia. The purpose of the event was to build community and grow support by bringing people together in a fun, festive atmosphere, around Somali cuisine. Judges present for the event were Mayor Rybak, Lynne Rossetto Kasper of The Splendid Table, singer Nuura, and Adar Kahin, a local Somali musician. (Pictured above: Kasper and Kahin, and Nur.)