Najlaa Omar, one of our very first participants in Treasure Valley Refugee Restaurant Week in 2016, is back this year with two Syrian ice cream flavors at The STIL in downtown Boise. One of the flavors, "After the Rain," has almonds, dried apricots and raisins. The other flavor will debut the week of the event, Oct. 18-24.
Please tell us about your background as a chef — and how long have you worked at the STIL? I was not a chef before I started working at The STIL, the love for this job grew on me with The STIL growing year after year. I have been with the STIL for about four years and two months and many years to come.
What is your favorite food to make? My favorite thing to make at the STIL is the Déjà Vu (almond cream with Oreo's and waffle cone pieces).
How did you come up with the flavor combinations? One day I felt nostalgic and I used flavors that we used to use in our dishes back in Syria.
Can you tell us about any new ideas for flavors people may see from you in the future? It is a surprise! You have to come to the STIL to see or taste it in the near future.
Sunshine Spice Cafe
Owners: Sisters Homeyra, Bahar, Khatera and Narges Shams Our cafe & bakery is modern and artistic. We serve coffee, pastries, breakfast and lunch. We have many pastries that are unique and served only at Sunshine Spice Cafe. We offer dine-in, curb-side pick-up and Uber Eats.
Recommended Dishes: Dumplings is one of the favorite dishes that many of our customers have tried and loved, but our pastries are also great. About the Owners The Shams sisters were born in Afghanistan and spent their early childhood there as well as in Iran and Turkey. They eventually immigrated to the United States because their father wanted his daughters to be able to receive an education, something they couldn't pursue under the Taliban in Afghanistan. They arrived here knowing virtually no English and had to learn that as well as life in the U.S. The Shams dreamed of creating a place where they could highlight their individual talents and introduce their home cultures to the people in Idaho.
Bahar came up with an idea to create a cafe. She wanted to name it something unique but that also had a connection with their home country. Saffron originated in Afghanistan and inspired the names of many places, but few used its nickname, Sunshine Spice. Thus, the Sunshine Spice Bakery & Cafe was born.
After several years of planning and research, the Shams were able to open their cafe in December of 2019. There, each of the sisters contributes their own unique skills and talents to the success of the business.
Bahar is the creative force behind the food — she researches and creates the recipes, incorporating saffron for a unique experience not found in Boise. She is also the food photographer and manages most of the business aspects of the cafe.
Khatera is the chef and baker, taking Bahar's creations and producing them for the cafe. She is also the chief barista creating the coffee and tea drinks for the patrons.
Narges & Homeyra use their talents in creative visual art for the cafe as well as manage the gallery space where they showcase their works of art. Homeyra manages the front-of-house customers’ experience while Narges manages the kitchen.
What do you like to do for fun outside of work? When we are not at the cafe, we stay home and watch our favorite shows on TV. We all like to watch Turkish series. We also like to shop and hangout with friends.
Shankaron Market in Boise features a restaurant and grocery store focused on East African foods, specifically from Somalia. When owner Shankaron was growing up with her four siblings, her parents ran a big restaurant. This inspired her to keep the entrepreneurial spirit going after she moved to Idaho. She and her husband raised enough money to open a market that had clothes, groceries and a restaurant.
Shankaron missed her mom's cooking and wanted to be able to cook like her. Now her restaurant is able to share those dishes with the surrounding community. They recommend you try the fufu!
Get to know Chubangu, who started the restaurant with his family: Hi, my name is Chubangu Mnongerwa, and I came here as a refugee from Kenya. My family and I came to America back in 2005. I am currently a full-time college student striving to get my business degree.
My pops used to own a restaurant back in Kenya. The restaurant is called Amina's African Sambusas, and we serve primarily Kenyan food.
We originally started off farming through Global Gardens, and then my mother (Amina) decided to start making sambusas in 2012. We started off doing the Boise City Public Market and then we started catering. We did other events, like the Scentsy market and Eagle markets.
My mother's goals were to always to open up a restaurant, but she became busy. I took over the business in 2018. Towards the beginning of 2020 was when I decided that maybe it is time to start looking for a brick-and-mortar spot. It was hard at first because we knew that location would be a big thing, but we stuck to our vision and we kept our faith. We found a great place off of Overland.
The people in my family are pretty close, so we have designated game day on Sundays. We go play basketball or have like a card night. We always try to do something that can involve everyone. During the seasons we go to my siblings' games to support them. I'm not sure where I would be without my family, and I know there is no way I would've been able to do it without them.