Have you ever sampled the delicious Somalian food that Khadro Abdi brings each week to the Hollywood Farmers Market? Her company Alleamin Products LLC. is dedicated to bringing fresh Somalian sauces, food, and culture to the Pacific NW.
Translated as “Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful”, the word Alleamin is part of Khadro’s daily prayer. She says it has given her courage and strength that is an inspiration to those who are privileged to know her.
As a young girl in Somalia, Khadro learned to cook. In addition to school work, her mother had her helping with food preparation, which she loved. She soon found that cooking food for her community was her true passion.
However, ongoing civil unrest was escalating. Khadro, her first husband, and her mother fled the country in 1992 and took refuge in Ethiopia. But during a trip back to their homeland, her husband was killed, leaving Khadro with a small son.
Arriving in Portland in 2005 as a refugee, and speaking just a little English, Khadro enrolled at PCC to study and improve her English. Her second husband arrived in 2009—allowing her to concentrate on her studies and develop the means to make her family’s life better. Always hard-working, she was soon getting entry-level jobs. It didn’t take her long to start the first of many businesses. For three years she ran a daycare.
Knowing that people in her community would love authentic Somalian food, she opened Alleamin, an East African restaurant in NE Portland. Here she felt was able to help her community. Favorite dishes included Somalian hot sauce, rice with chicken, goat’s meat, and sambusas. Sadly, after four years, the lease on the restaurant suddenly ended. But not before her customers had fallen in love with her food.
This was a very difficult time for Khadro, her customers, her community, and her family. Only Khadro’s positive outlook on life kept her entrepreneurial spirit strong. She says that she is simply grateful for the opportunity to be a strong, independent entrepreneur.
Viewing running a business as a continual learning process, Khadro found support and encouragement from her community and customers. Though the International Refugee Center of Oregon (IRCO), she got licensed to sell her sauces.
In 2018, Alleamin found a new community at the Hollywood Farmers Market in NE Portland. Initially, Khadro and her helper, Faduma seemed a bit shy. Soon customers were lining up to sample and enjoy Khadro’s East African food, and any shyness quickly disappeared. Now there is a steady stream of people at her stand.
Khadro produces over 200 sambusas a week for the Hollywood and Lloyd Farmers Markets. A chicken and rice dish, authentically spiced as it would have been prepared in Somalia, is also available. Three full-flavored sauces with a touch of heat are available for taking home.
During the winter months, Alleamin won’t be at the market but will be back to Hollywood Farmers Market in April. However, you won’t have to go without the flavorful Somali dishes that have become such a wonderful addition to the market.
by Susan Gibson, HFM volunteer