Monday, January 18, 2010

Cooking Class with Iraqi Refugees in Cairo!

Last weekend, I attended an Iraqi cooking class here in Cairo.  The event was a fundraiser for legal assistance for the refugee community in Egypt.  UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has registered over 9,000 Iraqi refugees in Egypt, and countless other Iraqis are also here.  The Iraqi population in Egypt is highly educated, and many of these doctors, lawyers, and teachers can no longer work in their chosen professions.  Refugee legal aid helps provide refugees with legal protections in Egypt and helps Iraqis prepare their cases for resettlement elsewhere.  While Iraqis do not have permission to work or form self-help associations in Egypt, many Iraqis volunteer or through NGOs to help their community.  Their spirit is impressive.

It was lovely to spend a gorgeous January day taking a break from research and enjoying a the wonderful aromas of fresh herbs, the warmth of an outdoor barbeque, and endless cups of mint tea.  I'm looking forward to getting back to Boston to share the techniques and recipes that I learned.  Meanwhile, here are some photos to make you hungry!

After firing up the crackling grill (did I mention it's January?), we carefully removed the meat from the skewers using fresh pita bread, which we then used to cover the meat and keep it warm.  The juice-soaked bread was delicious to eat with our fingers later on.

Shish Tawouk, or Grilled Spiced Meat, and Char-grilled Veggies.

Preparing the rice by sauteeing it in oil with onions, then adding the fresh fava beans.

Rice with Dill and Fresh Fava Beans.

Lamb and spices simmering in broth

Lamb stew served traditionally on a bed of fresh pita bread.

Plating the food

Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Scallions, and Mint

After the meat was removed from the grill, the tea kettle was filled with water and tea leaves and placed directly on the coals.   At the end of our meal, we poured this "tea kushari" over fresh spearmint leaves and savored the beautiful day.

All photos Copyright Smart Green Gourmet 2010.


  1. Mmmm, looks amazing! Can you post some recipes when you get back, especially for the fava beans and rice?

  2. Are you serious?! This looks like the most amazing experience ever!

  3. Dear Simply Life,

    It was great. I'm only sorry I didn't have time to stick around for a Sudanese Cooking Class with Sudanese Refugees, too! If you're ever in Cairo and are interested, please let me know and I'll give you the information on where to find them.


    Smart Green Gourmet

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  5. What an experience...I could just smell the aromas coming from that outdoor cooking area. I particularly love the fava beans and rice. Will have to pursue a recipe for that!

  6. Thanks, Trish! I'm working on a similar recipe using whole grains and trying to cut the time down. Pleas visit again for updates!