We live in a globally connected world where people, traditions, culture, flavors, and food are more fluid than ever. Food is so much more than just sustenance. What we eat and the flavors that remind us of home are integral to the stories of who we are and where we come from. Sharing these foods and experiences can also be a means of economic stability.
At Three Sisters Kitchen, we are excited to host Beyond the Plate, a culinary and vocational training program for refugees, sponsored by Lutheran Family Services. Beyond the plate is designed to prepare refugees for a career in food service. The program allows aspiring refugee chefs to share their expertise through a series of cooking classes, catering events, and food markets in which they teach or participate in throughout the Albuquerque community.
I was lucky enough to sit in on the most recent class, March 24, and experience Beyond the Plate. Though strangers when the class started, the participants were soon happily chatting around the communal table. The class was led by Khadija, a refugee from Syria, assisted by her son Muhammad. Shoulder to shoulder the class bonded over stuffing grape leaves and hollowing zucchinis, quickly laughing and working with friendly collaboration. Khadija expertly shifted from quality control to cooking, to prepping the next step as our kitchen filled with delicious aromas and comradery. One by one the dishes came out, each carefully plated and garnished by Khadija. The class helped themselves to a well-earned dinner and soon the kitchen was filled with mummers of content conversation and the clink of cutlery.
During each class, attendees will learn the art of cooking traditional dishes from various countries, history about the food, and have an opportunity to work with local ingredients and learn more about cooking in different cultures. Classes are $35 per person and held at Three Sisters Kitchen located on 109 Gold Ave SW, in downtown Albuquerque. The next one is Sunday, April 14, you can register for it here.
- Grape Leaves (1 jar)
- Tomato 2
- Small grain rice (2 cups)
- Green Onion 1 bunch
- Parsley 1 bunch
- Pomegranate Molasses
- Garlic 2 cloves
- 1 teaspoon coffee
- Salt and Pepper
- Lemon Juice
- Baharat Mix (seven spices or garam masala)
*** You can buy the grape leaves, pomegranate molasses, and Baharat mix at a local Mediterranean grocery store like Al-Quds located on the corner of Montgomery and San Pedro
- Dice tomatoes, chop green onions and parsley, and mince garlic
- Wash 2 cups of rice
- After rice is washed and drained. Add 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon ground coffee, 3 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of Baharat mix, and half a cup of oil.
- Add vegetables and garlic to the rice mix and mix all together.
- While preparing the rice mix, drain the grape leaves jar. Once drained place 1 cup of water into a pot and place the grape leaves throughout and boil for 10 minutes.
- Once grape leaves have softened, let it cool and begin assembling.
- Take a grape leaf and flatten it, make sure the veins are on the upside. Once the grape leaf is flattened put one tablespoon of the rice mix in the middle of the leaf.
- Then the rolling begins! Once the rice mixture is placed on the middle of the leaf, roll up the leaf away from you then fold the sides in. Once the sides are secured, roll all the way up while making sure the sides are in check.
- Repeat, until leaves and rice mixture is finished.
- Once assembled, arrange the grape leaves carefully into the pot in a circle pattern and stack it, if needed. Make sure to keep them snug, we don’t want a rogue yalangi to get away!
- In order for the stuffed grape leaves (yalangi) to keep its form, place a wide enough plate on top of the stacked grape leaves and weigh the plate down with either a rock or a bowl of water. We will be putting a broth mixture into the pot to boil the yalangis by placing a weighted down plate, the yalangis will keep its form.
- In a pot put 8 cups water or until water is above 2 inches above the stuffed grape leaves, 3 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoon pomegranate, 1 tablespoon pepper, and 2 tablespoon salt
- Boil for an hour to hour and a half. Once the yalangis are soft and the rice inside is cooked, drain the broth and enjoy!