SYRIAN women in Coventry have produced a cookbook full of recipes and stories from their homeland to say thank you to the city for providing them with safety.
‘A Taste of Syria’ cookbook was officially launched at the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) last Friday (November 30).
A celebratory event recognised the women’s achievements while they cooked a three-course meal – featuring recipes from the cookbook.
Hayat Alejrf arrived from Syria with her husband and four children in 2015 as part of the city’s Integration Project and her dish – Halawit Aljoben – is a featured recipe.
The Integration Project was set up in 2014 to assist newly arrived individuals and families.
Hayat said: “When we first arrived in Coventry, we didn’t know anyone and it was very difficult to communicate with people as we all knew very little English.
“After a couple of months, we found out about a small community festival taking place nearby and decided to go along with some home cooked Syrian food. Everyone absolutely loved it and it really helped us settle into our new home.”
It was followed by a Syrian dinner with CRMC in December 2016 in which the community hosted a meal of Syrian food to raise money for people who were destitute in Coventry.
Community participation officer at CRMC Mary Unsworth said: “After the success of these events, we spoke with the women at our women’s group – part of the Integration Project – about what they would like to do.
“Most of the women enjoyed cooking and so alongside West Midlands Police and Coventry City Council, the idea emerged to produce a cookbook of food from their homeland which could be shared with the community.”
Angelina also arrived in 2015 from a refugee camp in Lebanon after escaping Syria. Her recipe for a dish is in the cookbook.
She said: “I love Coventry. Before I came here and because of everything that happened, I didn’t feel alive.
“Everyone is so friendly and I feel like only now, my life is starting from three years ago.
“This is my way of saying thank you and giving something back to the community.
“My dish is a traditional food from my village, that I used to cook every Friday with my mother and it is very nutritional and healthy.
“It is also very good for pregnant women or those who have just given birth as it has lots of vitamins and nutrients in it.”
Syria, under president Bashar Al-Assad, has been locked in a devastating civil war which has displaced millions and killed hundreds of thousands of people.