A refugee and a Brooklynite teamed up to serve a few lucky New Yorkers a little taste of foreign lands.
Naseema Bakshi fled Afghanistan after her husband, who served in the U.S. army, was killed by the Taliban. This widowed mother of six now lives in New York, and is making the most of what she knows: cooking for her family. Pairing up with Hannah Goldberg, a professional chef, Naseema discovered a new purpose and means to make a living.
Hannah founded the multicultural food business Tanabel less than a year ago. She works with a different woman every month for catering, cooking classes, and monthly dinners. Each of the women she works with is a refugee.
“The thing I always loved about food was the way that it bridged cultural gaps and was a common language everyone could speak,” Hannah told The Daily Beast. “My hope is that this offers a safe, productive space for women.”
Naseema and Hannah created a three-course dinner in celebration of Nowruz, a 3,000-year-old holiday that was banned by the Taliban. Nowruz celebrates the new year, and is observed on the vernal equinox.
RECIPE: HAFT MIWA
- 250g whole almonds with skin
- 250g walnuts
- 250g pistachios
- 250g dried apricots
- 250g dried white apricots
- 250g sinjid (aka oleaster or Persian olives)
- 250g long green raisins
- 250g red raisins
- 250g black raisins
- 3 pods green cardamom
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add the almonds and blanch them for 2 minutes to soften them and release their skins. Drain the pot into a strainer, rinse the almonds with cool water, slip off their skins, and set them aside in a small bowl.
- Repeat this process for the walnuts and pistachios, using fresh water each time. Peeling the walnuts will require the aid of a paring knife. As you peel them, place them in a small bowl of cool water to keep them from discoloring.
- Put the 6 dried fruits in a large bowl and rinse them three times, agitating them vigorously with your hands, then draining the water away.
- Refill the bowl with filtered or distilled water to cover the fruits by an inch.
- Lightly crush the cardamom and add it to the bowl, along with the nuts. Mix to combine.
- Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for one day (or two—the flavor only improves!) for the fruits to absorb the water and for the flavors of the dish to meld.
- After the bowl has sat overnight, top up with more filtered or distilled water as necessary, and let it sit until the celebration begins. The compote should be quite juicy—the naturally sweet steeping liquid is part of the dish and the pleasure of eating haft miwa!
- Spoon into small bowls along with some of its liquid and serve.
Video Producer: Sarah Bellingham
Executive Producer: Alex Brook Lynn
Associate Producer: Lizeth Beltran