Recipes with Refugees: Nidhal’s Feast

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Nidhal and her daughter work on preparing a simple Iraqi salad.

James Beard once said that “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” No matter where we grew up, no matter who cooked dinners in our homes, we all share a love for our favorite foods, especially the ones that remind us most of home. Each of us can think of these cherished recipes–grandmother’s pierogies, uncle’s barbecue pork, or even your mother’s favorite Iraqi kubba.

This past weekend a group from Durham had a chance to peer into the Middle East by sampling some favorite recipes from Iraq. These community members attended Recipes with Refugees, a dinner program which shares the cuisine and culture of refugees’ home countries with North Carolinians. At each Recipes with Refugees, a refugee chef shares her specialities and her story with a group of community members. On Saturday evening, Nidhal, a recent refugee from Baghdad,  got out her pots, pans, and favorite recipes and shared a taste of Iraq. She made dolma, a classic Iraqi dish made of cucumbers, onions, peppers, and eggplant stuffed with rice, tomatoes, spices, and ground meat. She made kubba, a  fried stuffed dumpling well-loved across the Middle East. She also shared an Iraqi salad, Iraqi carrot rice, special pickles and olives, as well as halal yogurt, dates, and baklava. Though many of Nidhal’s dishes were new to the North Carolinians, they were well received. All of the guests raved about the perfect freshness and vinegar taste of the salad, of the warmth of the dolma, and of the crunch and  savor of the kubba. It was a terrific evening to share a common love of food and a new knowledge of Iraqi culture.

Nidhal smiles with her Iraqi feast. Pictured are dolma, kubba, salad, and dates.

Nidhal smiles with her Iraqi feast. Pictured are dolma, kubba, salad, and dates.

If you like to host dinner parties and would like to hold a Recipes with Refugees night in your home, please contact Kelly at kcohen@cwsglobal.org. We’re hoping to host a series of dinners around the Triangle with chefs from Sudan, Burma, Congo, Iraq, and Eritrea!

If you’d like to try your hand at cooking these Iraqi specialities, here are links to a few recipes:

Kubba Recipe

Dolma Recipe

Carrot Rice

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Community members watch and learn as Nidhal prepares her feast.

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