Batulo Mahamed’s Somali meat pies are a fan favorite at Concord’s multicultural festival
Batulo Mahamed’s vendor booth at the Concord Multicultural Festival never fails to draw a crowd.
Her traditional Somali meat pies, which she sells every year – choose beef, chicken or vegetables – are filled with potatoes, onions and carrots that she grows herself, encased in a batter she made from scratch and fried until golden brown. crisp until steaming. Many of her customers find them so irresistible that they come back for seconds.
“People who just want to try, they buy one,” Mahamed said. “And then later they come and say ‘oh, that was so good, now I need more. “”
This year, Mahamed had help responding to customer demand: High school students from Concord Regional Technical Center’s Culinary Arts and Baking program explored international cuisine with Professor Jayson McCarter, and students worked to prepare the meat pies on Friday to get Mahamed ready for Sunday’s event.
Mahamed, who lives in Boscawen, learned to make meat pies from his mother growing up in Somalia. For them, meat pies were considered a special occasion food that they would fry for celebrations.
When political instability and civil war in Somalia made it too dangerous to stay in the country, Mahamed was moved to a refugee camp and resettled in Concord with her husband and children in 2004. During her early years at Concord, Mahamed would make meat pies to serve to friends and visitors from social service agencies who came to her house to help with paperwork or transportation. Everyone who tried them noticed how good they were, and it wasn’t long before Mahamed was invited to be a food vendor at the Concord Multicultural Festival.
She started doing her festival prep cooking in local church kitchens and now uses the facilities of the NH Food Bank in Manchester. Over the years, Mahamed has become the most popular food vendor at the Multicultural Festival, where she estimates she sold around 500 meat pies in one day. She also sold food at Concord’s Market Days Festival and Barnstead Farmer’s Market.
“Batulo has its own supporters,” said Concord Multicultural Festival director Jessica Livingston. “Every year when we promote it on Facebook, people are like ‘oh, I can’t wait for Somali meat pies.’ It makes me really happy to see something like this coming out of the festival.
Mahamed attributes his popularity to the novelty of the food.
“People like to try different things,” she explained. “My cultural cuisine is different. Some of them want to try every food. They like what is going to be the best smell and what tastes the best.
In her sales stall, Mahamed is usually accompanied by several of her 12 children, who help prepare and sell the food. Mahamed’s daughter, SangaboShegow, 15, a student at Merrimack Valley Secondary School, says she enjoys helping her mother at festivals as she usually gets a chance to sample different foods herself.
“We love sharing our culture with other people and seeing other people doing the same thing is really fun,” Shegow said. “Everyone at the Multicultural Festival is really friendly and there’s so much to do there so we love going there every year.”
The rest of the year, Mahamed is a farmer with the Fresh Start Farms collective. She maintains her own garden plots in Boscawen at Sycamore Community Gardens and grows vegetables which she sells at Barnstead Farmer’s Market. She also works as a housekeeper at the Comfort Inn.
Mahamed intends to start his own business, selling his meat pies under the name “Batulo’s Kitchen”. Mahamed’s vision includes a food truck equipped with kitchen appliances, where she can fry her pies on the spot and deliver them, freshly baked, to customers through the window. Although still in its infancy, Mahamed plans to start her business through New Hampshire’s Community Navigator program, which offers resources to immigrants, refugees and other underrepresented entrepreneurs who may be coping. obstacles to starting their own business.
“It’s really nice to take something so great from the festival and just expand it, make it bigger than the festival,” Livingston said. “Now she will be able to share her culture and be accessible to everyone every day, and to a very large part of the community.”
At festivals, customers always ask Mahamed where they can buy her food locally – and she is delighted to have an answer for them soon.
“I want people to taste my food, to know better who I am and where I come from,” Mahamed said.
The Concord Multicultural Festival will be held at Keach Park on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Parking is available at the Community Bridges lot at 70 Pembroke Road.
Although the event is free, food and goods are sold. Participants are requested to bring cash as credit cards are not accepted.
For more information, visit concordnhmulticulturalfestival.org/home.