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COOKING WITHOUT BORDERS

Cooking is most of the time about being hungry but it can also be about much more, about dealing with loss (cooking & remembering therapy designed by NY based therapist Peter Gevisser), about creating safe spaces, about remembering and keeping your identity in troubled times, about human security, about dealing with occupational deprivation and also about nurturing solidarity.

Our project to make a truly no border cooking book called „Cooking without borders” taps into this great potential that a harmless, basic but essential element of life such as cooking has. We believe that talking about cooking with migrants and refugees means talking about themselves, about their hopes and concerns.

On a more pragmatic level, literature in the field recognizes that: „Displaced from their homeland and housed in camps around the world, refugees live in hope of resettlement into a place of stability and peace. Although resettlement offers stability, it also creates a condition of occupational deprivation as a refugee steps from their culture into another. Occupational therapy recognizes that engagement in meaningful activities is paramount to sustaining health and well-being, and assists individuals in overcoming hurdles which prevent them from engaging in those activities.”[1]

Cooking is one of the methods that can address this issue as well, and for this reason, our projects aims to create a cooking book that can channel the experience of migrants and refugees but also to pilot a series of cooking lessons events that can facilitate the integration of migrants, of creating an environment for them and local people to interact and create bonds of common understanding.

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[1] Lundēn Emily, (2012). Refugee Resettlement Through the Lens of Occupational Therapy. University of Puget Sound, Washington.

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A delicious and free Shepherd’s Pie

Alec is a young man from Australia with Indonesian heritage, who came to Europe in search of new ideas, people and information. “There is an inspiring ebb and flow of people with new ideas and attitudes here, in Australia this doesn’t happen, it feels too far away from anywhere”.

As he does not hold residential status and is not in possession of a valid visa to be in Europe, Alec is legally considered an illegal immigrant. I came here voluntarily and I didn’t have any intentions of staying, it just happened.” He believes that the living conditions in Australia and The Netherlands (where he lives now) are more or less the same, just as any other place of the western world and he has found a passion embedded in it – “If you want work, you work, if you don’t want, you can always go to the bin”.

Alec is a fan of dumpster-diving: recycling food from that trash that has been prematurely discarded by mostly supermarkets. Back in Australia he used to live in a house that lived almost exclusively from food that was labeled as ‘trash’. “Why buy food when you can get perfectly good food from the bin? Regardless of nationalities, regardless of everything, dumpster food is for everybody. It is waste, it is for everyone in the same way as if there is an apple tree in the middle of the forest, everybody can take it. It belongs to nobody and therefore it belongs to everybody”.

Before getting deeper into the cooking, we stirred the conversation in a bit more serious direction and asked Alec how he felt being considered as an illegal immigrant in The Netherlands. Although he said that:“personally I feel the same as everybody that is living here legally, because for me it doesn’t make so much difference in terms of how you live day to day life,he does feel the threat of being found out and deported on every border crossing or whenever he gets stopped by the police for any random reason. As response to what he thought would happen if he got deported, he answered he was not planning on finding that out, but; “because of my Australian passport, I think it would also be quite likely that they would just let me through. It is quite interesting, in terms of borders and distance, I am about as far as you can get, though, I have more rights here then someone say from Morocco.. This is a definition of injustice, why should it make any difference how you are treated when you come to a place, depending on where you are from?

Cooking:

When we asked what Alec has in mind to cook and he said with a smile “Shepherd’s pie!”. He had no particular relation with that meal, but explained that in Australia there is a big savory-pie culture and he had always wanted to make a Shepherd’s pie. He continues to explain that dumpster-diving is always random, so one must improvise, using the products you find to prepare basically anything.

As he began to cook, we asked him if he is influenced by dutch cuisine and if has incorporated a dutch element to his recipe – “Dutch cuisine for me is cooked kale, potatoes and meat, Stamppot, it is a bit boring”.

To begin with Alec’s wise words: “Use a lot of garlic, a lot of butter and a lot of salt.” Here is the recipe of his version of Shepherd’s Pie:

Shepherd’s Pie with recycled ingredients:

– 1 aubergine;
– Half a zucchini;
– 2 onions;
– 4 cloves of garlic;
– Tiny bit of pumpkin – (“originally I wanted to do a pumpkin pie but I ain’t got enough pumpkin”.)
– 1 paprika;
– 5 medium sized potatoes;
– 1 and half roll of pastry;
– 60 gr of butter;
– Curry powder;
– Pepper and salt;
– Some bouillon;
– Some ricotta
– Some milk

Preparation:

Wash and cut all the bad bits off the recycled veggies. Cut the aubergine and the zucchini in equal small sizes, then cut the paprika and the pumpkin into small dice shape pieces, slice the onion and the garlic. Start by frying the garlic and the onion, spicing them with curry powder, then turn the heat down and add the aubergine and the zucchini and cook until soft. Add the bouillon and cook until most of the water has evaporated.

Boil and cut the potatoes, once done mash them with the butter, milk and salt. (“The trick is to use butter and not oil. The more butter the better”).
Grease the baking tray, put the pastry onto it and then put in it all the cooked veggies, after which you put the whole thing into the oven on 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.

And there you have it! When we ask Alec if he has a message to the world, he says – “Look in the bin! Always look in the bin!”

Yabroudi barbecue

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Ahmed is a 26 years old man. He is from Yabroud, Syria. After Assad’s army took the city from the rebels he had to escape to the mountains in the borders with Lebanon in order to save his life. Soon after he decided that he had to go to Europe if he wanted to be recognised as a refugee and be able to start a new life without fear of persecution.

When he lived in Yabroud one of his favourite activities was to go in the mountains with his friends and hunt small birds. After they finished hunting they would set up a fire and spend the evening talking while grilling and drinking máte.

After reaching Greece he found the borders closed for Syrian refugees. If he wanted to get out of Greece his sole option was to apply for the EU asylum relocation program and so he did. He was finally relocated to Romania and is now living at a reception centre awaiting the decision to his asylum application.

In order to make his every-day life more pleasant while he awaits for the answer of the Romanian authorities, he occasionally grills and uses the same recipe he learned in Yabroud which has been handed down to him by his mother.

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Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of chicken cut in pieces
  • 2-3 tsp. turmeric
  • 4-5 bay leaves (smashed)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 orange
  • 2-3 tsp. of dried mint
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt
  • pepper

 

Instructions:

Slice the garlic. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together. According to your taste you can add more, or put less of turmeric, bay leaves and dried mint. Add the lemon juice and then cut the skin of the lemon in pieces and add it to the mix. Do the same with the orange. Cover your mix and let it stay. The more it stays the more the meat will absorb the aroma. When you are ready to grill, cook till the meat is thoroughly cooked. Serve with bread and salad.

Enjoy!

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Falafel recipe from cook Mr s Mona.

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Mona lives in Vasilika camp and is a refugee from Aleppo, Syria. After many adventures they managed to reach Greece but now they are stuck in the camp, even though their aim is to reach the more prosperous northern Europe. Due to the low quality of the food provided by the private catering in the camp, she decided to establish with her husband an informal restaurant inside the camp which specializes in falafel-making. He told us that the recipe from the falafel was handed down to her by her mother.

And that’s how it goes:

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Ingredients

  • About 2 cups dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans – you must start with dry.
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3-5 cloves garlic (I prefer roasted)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • Vegetable oil for frying

 

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    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them by about 3 inches of cold water. Let them soak overnight. They will double in size as they soak – you will have between 4 and 5 cups of beans after soaking.

    Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans well. Pour them into your food processor along with the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cardamom.

    Pulse all ingredients together until a rough, coarse meal forms. Scrape the sides of the processor periodically and push the mixture down the sides. Process till the mixture is somewhere between the texture of couscous and a paste. You want the mixture to hold together, and a more paste-like consistency will help with that.

    Once the mixture reaches the desired consistency, pour it out into a bowl and use a fork to stir; this will make the texture more even throughout. Remove any large chickpea chunks that the processor missed.

    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

    Fry the falafels in batches of 5-6 at a time till golden brown on both sides.

    Once the falafels are fried, remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon.
    Let them drain on paper towels.

Eiz Eddin’s Student Recipe

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Eiz Eddin is from Yabroud, Syria. After Assad’s army pushed the Free Syrian Army outside Yabroud in November 2013 he had to flee. First he went to Lebanon, then Turkey and finally he managed to reach Greece were he believed that finally his rights as a refugee will be recognised. Unfortunately he reached the borders of Greece when the crossing of Syrians was already regulated. The refugees were given a number and until their turn to cross would come they had to wait. Eiz Eddin’s turn to cross never came.

He lived in a tent for months in the makeshift camp of Idomeni in the Greek-Macedonian border. Soon he realised that his best option was to apply for the EU-managed asylum relocation program. After six months of waiting he was relocated to Galati, Romania. There we met for the first time after Idomeni and I asked from him to cook something that he used to cook when he was a student of Mechanical Electronics in Aleppo University.

He told me: “As a student I lived alone and did not have much free time so I needed to cook something which was fast, nutritious and delicious, so this food combines all three!”

Fried Chicken livers Yabroudi style

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 700 grams of chicken liver
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tin of mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • coriander

INSTRUCTIONS:

Wash the meat. Cut the onion and fry it with a little olive oil. When soft add the meat and the tinned mushrooms for a few minutes until the meat is cooked. Add the salt, the pepper and the coriander. Finally add as much lemon juice on it as you like.

Accompany with yoghurt, salad and bread and enjoy!

Invitation to Moroccan Dinner

Invitation to Moroccan Dinner by Mohammed and Myriam

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Mohammed, Myriam and their young boy are from Morocco and have been living in Athens since November 2015. After they arrived to Idomeni, in the Greek-Macedonian border, they learned that the border has been closed for Moroccans and decided to apply for asylum in Greece. As all asylum seekers in Greece they do not receive any kind of support by the Greek state. However, due to their friendly character and political activism in the local anarchist scene in Exarcheia, they have made many new friends that are supporting them with their daily needs.

Till today they have not yet received an answer to their asylum application.

When I invited myself to dinner I could never imagine what I found in front me! A feast for the eye and the stomach!

These are dishes that have been handed down to Myriam by her mother and grandmother.

Let’s learn how to make some of them.

Chicken Moroccan style

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INGREDIENTS:

  • One chicken
  • One lemon
  • 1 tsp. of turmeric
  • 1 tsp. of cumin
  • 5 strands of parsley
  • 5 Tbsp. of mustard
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • salt
  • pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Smash the cloves of garlic and mix the ingredients. Keep the skin of the lemon and apply your mix around the chicken and inside it. Let it stay in the fridge overnight.

Cook in the oven 120-150 minutes in 150 degrees.

Attention: As Mohammed advices, if you have invited a friend with low blood pressure reduce the quantity of garlic.

Accompany with rice

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 Potatoes
  • 4-5 Carrots
  • 1 and half big glass of parboiled Rice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley
  • 7 Olives
  • 2Tomatoes
  • 1 can of tuna
  • 3 Tbsp. of Mayonnaise

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put potatoes and carrots to boil. Peel the skin of the potatoes and cut them in small cubes same as the carrots and the tomatoes. Boil the rice with salt. Cut the olives in slices. And mix all together.

Stuffed Peppers Moroccan style

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 3 Peppers
  • Tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 Can of Tuna or a little bit of minced meat.
  • 2-3 Cloves of Garlic
  • Water
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

For the sauce:

Cut the tomatoes in small cubes and put them in a pot with tomato sauce, the smashed cloves of garlic, olive oil, turmeric, salt and pepper.

For the peppers:

Cut the top of the peppers by creating a lid. Fill them with rice, potatoes and carrots that you have already boiled  (see rice recipe shown above) and mix with the tuna. If you use minced meat instead of tuna fry from before with salt and pepper.

Boil the peppers in the sauce for 30 minutes until the skin of the peppers becomes soft by taking care that they don’t stick on the bottom of the pot.

Sprinkle with thyme and enjoy!

 

 

Içli köfte

Içli köfte recipe, from cook MrChetin.

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He comes from Turkey and is a political refugee in Greece. He lives in Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece.

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MrChetin told us that he lived in Thessaloniki since 1987, because of the KenanEvren regime. As he was a trade unionist and came from a left-wing family, he wanted to avoid imprisonment. Today he has been granted political asylum and, together with other political refugees from his country, he runs “Kervan” tavern (means trip in Kurdish) in Thessaloniki, where they cook middle eastern dishes (as hummus, hunkarbegendi, shish kebab). He says he learned to cook Içliköfte from his family and friends in Istanbul.

INGREDIENTS

Outer part: bulgur, onion (ground in the blender), 2 tablespoons of flour, salt, cumin

Inside part: ground beef, onion, walnut, parsley, black pepper, cumin

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Soak the bulgur.
  • Sauté the inside part ingredients.
  • Knead the outer part ingredients.
  • Combine the two parts to form filled meatballs (they can be preserved in the fridge).
  • Fry them before serving.

Maqluba

Maqluba recipe from cook Mr s Fatima.

 

She comes from Syria and is currently located in Vasilika camp, Northern Greece.

Maqluba means “upside-down” and Mrs Fatima learned this recipe from her parents. They used to eat it together with big groups of friends in their home country and mainly during Ramadan period. Her husband shared with us that in Syria this dish was usually made either with chicken or with lamb. When they wanted to honor their guests, they cooked maqluba with lamb and they put the lamb’s head in the middle of the table. According to custom, they all first had something from the head and then they had the main dish.

As they mentioned, today they unfortunately remain stuck in a poorly structured refugee camp. So, their family has neither a normal kitchen nor direct access to the ingredients they would need in order to cook and taste a food as they used to make it back in their homeland. They would prefer to be given the opportunity to cook their food themselves, instead of having it prepared by the catering private company whose food is of a low quality and does not meet the needs of a family.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 kg chicken
  • 1 kg rice
  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 1 kg eggplants
  • 500 gr almonds
  • oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bay leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Fry the eggplants and the potatoes (in olive oil).
  • Boil the chicken breasts (with black pepper and bay leaves).
  • In a big pot, put a layer of chicken breasts at the bottom. Put a layer of eggplants on it, then a layer of potatoes and then a layer of rice. Repeat the layers over it, starting from the chicken layer.
  • Place the pot on a low heat for 25 minutes.
  • Sauté the almonds on a low heat.
  • Put a big tray on the top of the pot and, with a quick move, turn the pot upside-down in order to put the food in the tray.
  • Add the almonds on top.
  • Maqluba (upside-down) is ready to serve.

Rice recipe

Faranaz came to Romania in 2010, together with her husband Mahdi and their 4 children. Life in Afghanistan was not becoming brighter and all their hopes of making a living there were washed away by never-ending wars and ethnic conflicts. So they took the chance and started a dangerous journey to Europe. Romania was not a destination, although this was to become their second home. Both parents wanted for their children to be safe and to grow up in peace. All of them suffer from severe or mild handicap due to war related traumas, and Afghanistan was not a country where they could attend special schools or receive specialized care. So they left. Being registered in Romania as refugees, their stay in Sweden was rejected although they demanded a residence in the benefit of their children’s access to a better health and mental care system. Since being forcibly returned to Bucharest a few years ago, they have been living in the refugee centre. They are known to be one of the nicest couple and families that ever lived there…. They always cook more and offer food to other people living or working there. Because they love to cook and love to share, we decided to share some of their delicious recipes.

 

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