A celebration of refugee recipes

No value assignedIn celebration of World Refugee Day, the Atlanta Botanical Garden will host a very special cultural exchange demonstration with Clarkston nonprofit Friends of Refugees. Guest chefs from Sudan, Burma, Nepal and Syria will cook up recipes from their home countries at the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen. "This is our way to tell the story of where these people are from, why they are here and what is unique to them," says Erin Davenport, Friends of Refugees' director of agriculture and nutrition.
On Saturday, Sudanese chefs Zulikha Yousif and Fatima Abdulrahman will be cooking asida, a bread-like porridge made fresh every morning in North Africa. Beyond breakfast, making asida is considered a cultural rite of passage for North African women, Davenport says.

Karen Burmese chefs Law Way and Pet Pet will show guests how to properly pound chili peppers with a mortar and pestle for a traditional Burmese dish called moh ghee dtoh. They'll also demonstrate how to saut̩ chin baung, or roselle, a species of hibiscus the Burmese call "sour leaf" for its lemon-like flavor.

On Sunday, chef Tri Basnet of Clarkston's popular Kathmandu Kitchen will be preparing vegetarian steamed dumplings, or momo, a popular snack in Nepal and surrounding areas.

Syrian chef Malek Alarmash and his mother Majeda Nakshbandi will prepare a refreshing tabbouleh made with chopped parsley, bulgar wheat, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and spices. It's a staple at their Clarkston-based catering business Suryana Cuisine, established with the help of Friends of Refugees' entrepreneurship program. "My mother taught me everything I know about cooking," Alarmash says. "We are using our love for cooking to provide for the family while serving the community our culture and food."

A few of the dishes at the Refugee Recipe Celebration will be made from fresh produce straight from Clarkston. The Jolly Avenue Community Garden, located in the middle of 10 densely populated apartment complexes, offers 1.5 acres of land in the middle of the city. Here, families can rent a plot for $15 a year and grow produce the way they would have in their home country, from common staples like corn and squash to more hard-to-find produce like Thai peppers.

This weekend's Refugee Recipe Celebration will pair these international cooking demonstrations with a variety of cultural activities including weaving crafts, accordion music, seed planting and a Takraw tournament: a game similar to volleyball that is played with your feet. Don't miss it!

Free with $21 park admission. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.-Sun., June 24-25. Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. 404-876-5859. www.atlantabg.org.

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