Texas agency releases cookbook for World Refugee Day June 20

To celebrate World Refugee Day on June 20, Texas Refugee Services is releasing a cookbook titled Plated stories: legacies from home to table, with recipes from refugees and survivors of human trafficking around the world.

Among the 50 recipes for dishes like injera, pupusas, lumpia, and taro pudding, there are also stories of survival and resettlement, told by the book’s 21 contributors.

Ashley Faye, Cookbook Editor and Senior Director of Development at RST, said: “With record numbers of refugees arriving from Afghanistan and Ukraine, it is more important than ever that people hear these stories.

The book features photography by Nitya Jain with culinary styling by Darcy Folsom. It was primarily designed by Sheena Wendt and funded by the 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 connection between those we serve…and those who might just dip a fork into their first bite of khubuli [a Pakistani rice and lentil pilaf].”

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

Texas Refugee Services has resettled more than 15,000 refugees to Texas since its founding in 1978. The social services agency supports those going through the U.S. refugee admissions program, which has been ‘slow to rebuild after years of dismantling under the previous presidential administration”. “says a press release.

According to RST, the United States is only expected to resettle 18,900 refugees for fiscal year 2022 which ends in three months, even after the Biden administration set the cap at 125,000 this year.

Jessica Goudeau, award-winning author of After the Last Frontier: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in Americawrote the intro 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 steeped in memories of home and family, old traditions that will never be forgotten, and new friends that give hope, even in the midst of a new beginning.”

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

After a brief account of her forced flight from Iraq, a place where she loved to live until her father was the victim of religious violence, al-Ibrahim writes: “Sometimes I think my life is upside down, just like my mother’s maqluba, but just like my favorite dish, it turned out to be better than I could have imagined.

To order a copy of Plated Stories, you can donate at rstx.org.

Meat, rice and vegetables upside down from the ‘Plated Stories’ cookbook.(Texas Refugee Services)

Meat, rice and vegetables “upside down” | Maqluba | مقلوبة

2 cups basmati rice

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

¼ cup tomato paste

1 tsp plus ½ tsp salt (divided use)

2 teaspoons of paprika

2 large eggplants

2 tsp plus ½ tsp black pepper (divided use)

2 large potatoes, sliced

2 large green peppers, sliced

2 large tomatoes, sliced

1 large onion, diced

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons of black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons of cumin

4 chicken thighs

Rinse and drain the rice and set aside.

Add olive oil to the pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tomato puree and stir.

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

Cut the aubergines into slices and coat them lightly with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in an air fryer or in the oven at 350℉ for 20-40 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

Prepare the potatoes by peeling them, cutting them thinly and coating them lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.

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

In another bowl, combine the chicken or vegetable broth, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, allspice, cumin, salt and 2 tbsp olive oil. ‘olive. Marinate the chicken thighs for 2 hours in this mixture and fry them until cooked through or the chicken reaches 165°F inside.

To assemble the Maqluba, use a large pot (8″-9″ tall) and spread some olive oil on the bottom and sides of the pot. Start by layering half of the sautéed vegetables on the bottom and seasoning with additional salt if desired. Then spread half the chicken on top and press down with a wooden spoon or potato masher to flatten it. Then add half the rice over the chicken and repeat with the rest of the ingredients. You should have rice as the top layer.

Place the filled pan on the stove, heat on high for a few minutes to bring everything to a light simmer, then lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook for another 45 minutes, or a little longer until the rice is completely cooked. Let stand 10 minutes before flipping.

To flip, use a large serving platter or plate placed on top of the pot. Hold the plate firmly against the top of the pan and quickly turn it over so that the pan is upside down on the plate. Lightly tap the pot, then slowly reveal the tower below.

THE SOURCE: Plated Stories: Legacies from Home to Table

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