Amal always felt she had Jewish roots

FROM war-torn Somalia and poverty to training as a financial adviser and converting to Reform Judaism, Amal Cowan has been on quite the journey of self-discovery.

Born and raised in Mogadishu by her grandmother Khadra, she spent much of her childhood between Somalia and Yemen before settling in the UK when she was 15.

With a university degree to boot, Amal (nee Hassan) went on to have a successful 11-year banking career as well as launching her own chilli sauce business.

And yet, Amal, now settled in Manchester with her solicitor husband Richard and two children, still looks back fondly at her earliest memories.

“My childhood, at least at its earliest period, was idyllic, and my grandma was this very nurturing, bigger than life kind of character,” said Amal, who appeared on BBC One’s MasterChef in 2019.

“It was only when I was about six or seven that I actually met my mother for the first time because she had been travelling after she had me.

“My grandma had effectively been my mother figure for so long so it was hard to adjust when I moved to Yemen to reunite with my mother.”

Amal found there were a lot of similarities between the two nations, especially when it came to the food.

But one of the things Amal noticed after moving from Yemen’s capital Sana’a to a mountaintop village with a small community in Khamir, was the sheer amount of entrenched racism.

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