Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Syrian Mezze from One Home To Another

Although I no longer work with asylum seekers and refugees in my day job anymore, I quietly when opportunity presents continue to do some volunteer work.  I like that I am still able to tap into skills, knowledge and experience from my previous roles to support individuals who may benefit from them.  I don't boast about it, because I am selfishly doing it for myself.  I want to remain true to myself and to keep myself rooted to the real world.  Its easy to lose sight of reality when your working in a middle class environment where people ponder their first world problems and millennials talk about selfies and social media presence.  Its not my world and I don't actually fit in, so I look for other opportunities to engage with people who keep me grounded.

I have on some occasions had the honour to cook some vegetarian meals that happen to be accidentally vegan for asylum seekers and refugees.  I am pleased share food over smiles. I don't like taking photographs of people there, after all they are people.  However, I do notice that some people are so desperate to take photographs asylum seekers and refugees at event and do not ask for permission, they are showing disrespect.  Some of theses human beings have escaped war, torture, exploitation and much more and do not want their face plastered every where on social media for numerous reasons.  I understand their reservations, but some people continue to see asylum seekers and refugees as a photo opportunity for their website or publication. This kind of charitable work disheartens me. 
Anyway, a little while back we made a mezze of Syrian foods.  Here are just a couple which included Mutabal Shwandar is Beetroot Dip; and Muhammara which is Red Pepper and Walnut Dip.  We also made Kibbeh; Zahra wa Kamoon which is Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin; and Aubergine Maqluba - Upside Down Rice Cake. There was bread and lots of fresh salads. 

I feel at present I can afford and contribute some of the ingredients and share my skills of cooking.  This may not always be the case going forward - but while I can, I am happy to play a small part and eat at their table and listen to their refugee food stories (not those fake food stories that are really adverts promoting a supermarket). 

Mutabal Shwandar is Beetroot Dip
4 beetroots, roasted in oil until soft. Remove the skin and roughly chop. 
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons natural yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish
Transfer all the ingredients, except for the parsley to a food processor and blend until you have a smooth dip.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, 
Transfer to a dish and garnish with parsley 
Muhammara which is Red Pepper and Walnut Dip
200g of chargrilled peppers
1 red chilli
80g walnuts, toasted (keep one back for decoration)
1 tablespoon red pepper paste
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling.
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and drizzle wit olive oil.

Zahra wa Kamoon which is Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin
1 medium cauliflower, florets
olive oil for roasting
Fro the dressing
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Roast the cauliflower florets in the olive oil  seasoned with a little salt and pepper at 180oc/Gas mark 4.
While the cauliflower is roasting, make the dressing by whisking together the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and cumin.
When the cauliflower is ready, pour over the dressing and stir gently to coat.
You can find similar recipes in Syria Recipes from Home by Itab Azzam and Dina Mousawi


  1. Those all look tasty and worth trying!

  2. These look lovely and definitely going to try some. Well done on continuing to work with the refugees.

  3. Good work! As a volunteer, and for the mezzes! Love both!

  4. These dips look lovely, and it's great that you do voluntary work with refugees.


If you’ve tried one of my recipes, Please let me know by leaving a comment below or tagging me social media with @SeasonalShaheen.

Thank You