|Yasameen & Sheilla Sajady
Co-founders of Maazah Chutney in St. Paul
Sisters Yasameen and Sheilla started making chutney a few years ago. “We come from a family of small business owners,” says Yasameen. “I guess it’s in our DNA and our obsession with condiments. We love exploring new flavors and recipes, and we have a really great relationship, so starting a business together made sense.”
The sisters’ goal is to make it easy for people, tired at the end of the day, to create a delicious, flavor-packed meal. They recommend adding their chutney to eggs, pizza, grain bowls, and more. They’re looking to expand their vegan, gluten-free condiment line next year.
“Most condiments are dark, have a lot of sugar, maybe a smoky flavor,” says Yasameen. “Our line uses raw ingredients for a really fresh, full, healthy flavor. We want to make it easy for people to eat healthy.”
When thinking about what led them to pursue a business related to food, Yasameen says, “We have a big and very loud family. One day we were at my parents’ house for lunch and the table was silently eating, the only words people said were ‘pass the chutney.’ We knew right away that this was it! Our original recipes were based on family recipes and the flavors we grew up with. Our mom, Fatima, was the main inspiration.”
Their path hasn’t been easy. “In the male-dominated food industry, there aren’t many people who look like us in grocery buyer or manager roles,” says Yasameen. “A women-owned ‘ethnic’ condiment line in Minnesota can be successful; we just have to find partners and people that understand the value in diversity and good food. When there are roadblocks, we look at them as learning opportunities to make things even better.”