Sunday, 5 June 2016

Cooking with Nahla

Our group members spent a lot of time since the Abdallahs' arrival in December helping the family members navigate life in Toronto, trying to introduce them to Canadian life and culture. 

We realized that this has often been a one-way street. Because of the language barrier (which is getting smaller every day!) it has been more difficult for the family to share their culture and traditions with us. 
But one language is universal: food! We were very fortunate that Nahla, the matriarch of the family, and her daughter-in-law Sawsan showed us how to prepare some of their very delicious Syrian dishes. When we ate together – after patriarch Abdallah had given a beautiful Arabic blessing – we truly felt like one big family.

The women do not follow written recipes but we have taken notes of the ingredients and steps involved in making the dishes – we hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did!

Chicken à la Nahla

1. Remove skin from chicken drumsticks, place them in big pot with boiling water
2. Add cinnamon powder and cinnamon sticks, cardamom, onion slices, salt, ginger, turmeric and coriander. Boil chicken in broth for 45 minutes
3. Peel potatoes, cut them into thin slices
4. Deep fry potato slices in batches, set aside.
5. Deep fry onion slices
6. Place one layer of fried potato slices on bottom of large casserole.
7. Add boiled chicken drumsticks on top. Add some of the chicken stock. Keep the rest for rice.
8. Add sliced onions and another layer of deep-fried potato slices
9. Put casserole in oven for 20 minutes or cook on stove for another 20 minutes
10. Mix freshly-squeezed lemon juice and minced garlic. Pour some of the mixture over the chicken casserole before serving

Syrian salad

1. Cut cucumbers, green peppers, carrots and tomatoes into small pieces
2. Chop mint, parsley and green salad
3. Mix in large bowl
4. Pour rest of the lemon-garlic mixture over the salad before serving


1. Cut pita bread into thin stripes
2. Deep-fry pita slices until crispy. Put aside
3. In large bowl, mix 2 containers of joghurt with two containers of hummus.
4. Add some Tahini
5. Add garlic, 1 spoonful of cardamom and mix well
6. Empty two chickpea containers with liquid into cooking pot, boil for a few minutes
7. Place pita strips on bottom of casserole dish
8. Ladle joghurt-hummus mix on pita strips
9. Sprinkle dish with cayenne pepper and cumin
10. Ladle heated chickpeas onto dish
11. Heat up ghee (optional), pour over Fatteh before serving

Rice à la Nahla
Fatteh, salad and Nahla's chicken dish

1. Mix dry rice with oil and ghee
2. Add salt, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and coriander
3. Add left-over chicken stock, with come chicken pieces
4. Bring to boil

By Claudia Blume

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