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Virginia brothers launch Mama Weliya to honor mother’s homemade sauces

Three brothers turned their mom’s cooking into a Bristow-based business.

Photo by Mike Ramm

Friends and family often humor a host with pleasantries about her food. If it’s really good, they may ask for a recipe, and if it’s really, really good, they might joke about suggesting she bottle and sell that sauce.

Three brothers took those requests seriously and started a company featuring their mom’s sauces, Mama Weliya.
Abdisamad Sheikh, one of the brothers (and one of 11 children), studied business, but always wanted to get into the food industry, and thought his mom’s Somali cooking was a good entry point.

There’s a fenugreek sauce, a catch-all condiment that works through morning’s ful (fava bean stew) to dinner’s otka (chopped beef); plus a trio of hot sauces: fenugreek, coconut and avocado. The first two are traditional to Somali tables, and Sheikh suggests adding a few dashes of the coconut hot sauce over tomato-sauced noodles (the country was once an Italian colony).

Started in 2016, the team hopes to expand this year into teas, and eventually, a Somali restaurant. Until then, they’re happy making their mom proud. “She loves it, especially seeing her name on a bottle,” says Sheikh. // Sauces start at $4.99

This post was originally published in our April 2019 issue. Want more food content? Subscribe to our weekly food newsletter.

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