Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
Sitto Z is a tiny family-run business that makes its own signature chilli sauces, dry rubs and refreshing juices. You can currently find them on the weekends at the Honest2Goodness Saturday market in Glasnevin and the Christmas market on Stephen’s Green on Sundays.
It is no secret that the bar is particularly low when it comes to spice tolerance on this Emerald Isle and that loving chilli here is usually a tryst of crushing disappointment. However, the status of my search for the perfect blend of heat and flavour ended last Sunday when I happened to stumble across the brightly coloured bottles of the Sitto Z stall in Stephen’s Green’s Christmas market.
Sitto Z is a tiny family-run business that makes its own signature chilli sauces, dry rubs and refreshing juices.
The business is the product of a shared passion for cooking that has blossomed during the 20 year marriage of Ahmed Said and Caoimhe McCarty Said. However, Sitto Z itself was born out of necessity when Ahmed, a chef, was injured in a serious cycling accident about three years when his bike got stuck in the Luas tracks.
When it became apparent that Ahmed’s injuries meant that he would no longer be able to endure the extenuating requirements typical of a chef, the couple put their heads together to find an outlet for his talents.
“You know, we always did these sauces to complement any dish we made at home so we thought why not put it in a bottle and see if the Irish market like it. And people are fascinated and really receiving it well.”
For the Said family, however, Sitto Z is more than just a means of making ends meet. For their two daughters, Ayeshah and Zaina, the business is there to show them how to survive when life throws you curveballs.
“You do what you’re good at rather than retraining in something you hate just to make a living. Just do something that you’re good and passionate about first and see how that works out.” Caoimhe tells me.
The sauces themselves are lovingly handmade with scotch bonnet chillies and preserved with lemon juice, not the “nasties” that you find in your average factory made, store bought spicy sauces, with the ingredients being sourced as locally as possible. The sauces range from mild favours like lime, lemongrass & ginger, to the more severe Liquid Lava, which is my personal favourite as it reminds me of the hot sauces my Yemeni grandfather made for me as a child.
The recipes are inspired by Ahmed’s mixed Senegalese and Lebanese heritage, a mesh of cultures which have always influenced his cooking and is one of the factors that inspired him to be a chef. His second source of inspiration comes from Ahmed’s grandmother, Zaina, who raised him and taught him how to cook and surrounded him in a world of spices and flavour.
His grandmother isn’t just in the backstory of Sitto Z but in the name itself. Sitto is an Arabic slang word for a “grandma” which combined with the Z, gives you Grandma Zaina. Sitto Z. The name is an homage to her and gives the business another layer of family wholesome goodness.
The business has been running since June this year and currently, the only promotion you can find from them is on their Instagram page. When I asked Caomihe if we could expect a website any time soon she answered yes, but seeing as everything is currently being done from their own pockets things will be moving slowly for a while. That being said, they are definitely building a growing fan base and are taking on the comments received every week from their returning customers to fine tune their recipes.
You can currently find the whole Said family on the weekends at the Honest2Goodness Saturday market in Glasnevin and the Christmas market on the Green on Sundays.
Here is a list of their homemade products which are all available in 100ml (€3) & 250ml (€6) bottles.
- Liquid Lava
- Sahara Sunset
- Chilli Wing Sauce
- Vegan Sahara Sunset
- Lime, lemongrass & Ginger
- Salad Splash
Dry Rubs Include:
- Arabian nights
- Mediterranean Rub
- Potato Harra
- Jerk Seasoning
- Irish spud seasoning