This holiday season, I am deeply grateful to some beautiful women in my life. I want to introduce you to a very special place called Sanctuary Kitchen.
Sanctuary Kitchen is a nonprofit organization that works closely together with CitySeed, Inc, a local nonprofit that helps farmers and local businesses. Both of these organizations are very community oriented, and that’s how I came to learn about them.
Sanctuary Kitchen hosts cooking classes, dinner club meals and other culinary events, all led by immigrants and refugees from around the world. The chefs share cuisines of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Mauritian Island and more.
Sanctuary Kitchen also runs a catering social enterprise that provides authentic, multicultural catering and food products to support employment, professional training and integration of refugees and immigrants in Greater New Haven.
I have been volunteering at Sanctuary Kitchen regularly for over a year. I am part of the team, the family of women chefs who are refugees resettled in Connecticut.
Together we share our culinary traditions, cultures and stories as we prepare delicious meals that we offer for sale to the local community.
Here are some of the wonderful women I am proud to call my friends and coworkers. They are my sisters of the heart! They each have specialty dishes from their individual regions and their cuisine.
Aminah is the top chef. She is from Syria. Aminah has been with Sanctuary Kitchen since 2017, and now has her own catering business. If you are in the New Haven area, I highly recommend her! One of the many dishes she makes that I absolutely love is “Muhammara,” a delicious dip with roasted bell peppers, walnuts, pomegranate molasses and extra virgin olive oil.
Mona is from Syria. She makes hummus perfectly creamy-Just take a look at how beautifully the hummus is packaged– so much love goes into it.
Mona also makes delicious and perfectly shaped “Mamool” cookies filled with either dates or pistachios.
I learned everything about falafel from Azhar from Sudan. She is such a joy! She and her husband just became American citizens! I am so very proud of her!
Homa is a refugee from the Jaghori District of Afghanistan. She and her husband came to the US with their three children in 2015. She is passionate about cooking and has been catering for IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, week-long core classes for newly-arrived refugees to New Haven. Here she is, making Ashuk, a spinach dumpling, served with beans. She also makes superb Naan’s by the dozens!
Fatema, from Syria, makes a specialty “Basbousa” semolina cake infused with a light syrup and topped with shredded coconut and tiny rose buds. It is as scrumptious as it is beautiful! She, too, became and American citizen this year and I couldn’t;t be prouder of all her accomplishments!
Rawaa came from Iraq. She is a fellow scientist and had to leave her field of chemistry when she came to this country. I love working with her! She makes a superb baklava!
And of course there’s my sweetie Parvine, from Mauritian Island. She is my little fairy, tiny with a high voice. She and I speak our native French together at a mile a minute! She makes a lot of crepes, both savory and sweet and very spicy food, almost as spicy as she is! She has a beautiful cooking blog, “The Toorawa Kitchen”, filled with Mauritian recipes and fun cooking tips. I am so inspired by her cooking and have adopted her Potato and Chickpea curry in my weekly repertoire, much to David’s joy! She also has her own ETSY shop-Parvine’s place– where she sells exquisite handmade quilted items for the home. I use her tortilla warmers all the time and they are so beautiful too!
These beautiful women and I have developed a sisterhood working together at the kitchen. I just love them all! We cook together, we laugh together, we tell each other our stories, so diverse and yet so movingly similar to each other’s in so many ways.
And the great news is we’re growing! We used to work in the basement of a church. Now, we moved to a real professional kitchen, and we are expanding every day.
If you happen to live in the New Haven area, I highly recommend ordering from their delicious menus! If would like to donate to these wonderful and talented women, please visit Sanctuary Kitchen’s website and send them a gift of love this holiday season. With so many of you lovingly following me over all these years, even $5 from each of you would make a huge difference…and you know that it would fill my heart!