Texas agency releases cookbook for World Refugee Day June 20

In celebration of World Refugee Day June 20, Refugee Services of Texas is releasing a cookbook titled Plated Stories: Legacies from Home to Table, with recipes by refugees and human trafficking survivors from around the world.

Included among the 50 recipes for dishes like injera, pupusas, lumpia, and taro pudding are also first-hand stories of survival and resettlement, as told by the book’s 21 contributors.

Ashley Faye, the editor of the cookbook and senior director of development at RST, says, “With record numbers of refugees coming from Afghanistan and Ukraine, it’s more important than ever that people hear these stories.”

The book includes photography by Nitya Jain with food styling by Darcy Folsom. It was primarily designed by Sheena Wendt and funded by University Presbyterian Church, among other donors.

In the preface, Faye writes that the creative team chose to pair food with stories “because both are common denominators to our collective humanity, and we hope this book will create a degree of understanding and relationship between those we serve… and those who may just be dipping a fork into their first bite of khubuli [a Pakistani rice and lentil pilaf]. ”

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The cookbook is available for donations beginning at $ 50. Proceeds will go toward the work of finding housing, services, schooling, and job opportunities for recently arrived refugees, asylum seekers, and human trafficking survivors.

Refugee Services of Texas has resettled more than 15,000 refugees in Texas since its founding in 1978. The social-service agency supports those who come through the US Refugee Admissions program, which has been “slow to rebuild after years of dismantling under the previous presidential administration , ”A press release states.

According to RST, the US is slated to resettle just 18,900 refugees for the 2022 fiscal year that ends in three months, even after the Biden Administration set the ceiling at 125,000 this year.

Jessica Goudeau, the award-winning author of After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in Americawrote the introduction for Plated Stories.

“Connecting with others through friendship and shared food is richer than any spice and sweeter than any dessert,” Goudeau wrote. “These recipes are infused with memories of home and family, with old traditions that will never be forgotten and new friends who provide hope, even in the midst of starting over.”

An interpreter and program supervisor for RST, Marwa al Ibrahim, who arrived with her family from Iraq over four years ago, shares her recipe for maqluba, or upside-down meat, rice and vegetables, in the book.

After a short narrative of her forced escape from Iraq, a place she enjoyed living until her father became a victim of religious violence, al Ibrahim writes, “Sometimes I think my life is up-side-down, just like my mother’s maqluba, but just like my favorite dish, it has turned out to be better than I could have imagined. ”

To order a copy of Plated Stories, donations can be made at rstx.org.

Upside Meat, Rice and Vegetables from the 'Plated Stories' cookbook.
Upside Meat, Rice and Vegetables from the ‘Plated Stories’ cookbook.(Refugee Services of Texas)

“Up-Side Down” Meat, Rice and Vegetables | Maqluba | مقلوبة

2 cups basmati rice

¼ cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided use)

¼ cup tomato paste

1 teaspoon plus ½ teaspoon salt (divided use)

2 pepper teaspoons

2 large eggplants

2 teaspoons plus ½ teaspoon black pepper (divided use)

2 large potatoes, sliced

2 large green bell peppers, sliced

2 large tomatoes, sliced

1 large onion, diced

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons cumin

4 chicken thighs

Rinse and drain rice and set aside.

Add olive oil to the pot on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add tomato paste and stir.

Add 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt and pepper. When it starts to boil, add the rice and mix well, then bring to boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and let it cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir, then add more water if needed.

Cut eggplants into slices and coat lightly with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook in air fryer, or in the oven on 350 ℉ for 20 to 40 minutes, until brown and crispy.

Prepare the potatoes by peeling, slice thinly, and coat lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

Preheat a saucepan over medium high heat, add olive oil, and once the oil is hot, add green bell peppers, tomatoes, onion and potatoes and sauté until softened.

In a separate bowl, mix chicken or vegetable stock, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, allspice, cumin, salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Marinade the chicken thighs for 2 hours in this mixture, and deep fry until cooked, or chicken reaches 165 ° F internally.

To assemble the Maqluba, use a tall pot (8 ″ -9 ″ tall) and spread olive oil on the bottom and sides of the pot. Start by layering half of the sauteed vegetables at the bottom and season with extra salt if desired. Next, layer half of the chicken on top, and press down with a wooden spoon or potato masher to flatten. Next, add half of the rice on top of the chicken and repeat with the remaining ingredients. You should have rice as the top layer.

Place the filled pot on the stove, heat on high for a few minutes to simmer everything lightly, then turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Allow to cook for another 45 minutes, or a bit longer until rice is fully cooked. Let rest for 10 minutes before flipping.

To flip, use a large serving platter or plate placed on the top of the pot. Hold the plate tightly against the top of the pot and flip quickly, so the pot is upside-down on the plate. Tap the pot lightly and then slowly reveal the tower beneath.

SOURCE: Plated Stories: Legacies from Home to Table

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