Chefs Safaa, Mona and Aminah
Syria is a country rich in culture, history, and culinary excellence. Mona, Safaa and Aminah are all from different regions and each bring a unique flavor and style to the table.
Safaa is a refugee from Hama, Syria. In 2013, as a result of the war, she fled to Turkey with her husband and daughter. After three years in Turkey, she resettled in New Haven.
When Safaa was 14 years old, her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and started writing her recipes down for Safaa. As the eldest daughter, she took over cooking for the family. Safaa now loves to cook. Her favorite dish is shaykh al mahshi - a lavish dish of zucchini stuffed with meat and walnuts in a yogurt sauce, and she enjoys making desserts like qatayif - ricotta stuffed semolina pancakes topped with an orange blossom syrup and pistachios. She is excited to share Syrian food and its etiquette with her new neighbors!
Mona is from Damascus, Syria. She came to New Haven with her mother and daughter as a refugee in February 2017. In addition to being a Social Studies and Adult Literacy teacher in Damascus, Mona provided a “Blue Apron” type service where she prepped meals for customers to finish cooking at home, and sold homemade pickled vegetables.
Mona learned to cook early in her childhood from her mother while living in Damascus. She loves Damascene food, and says that she "cooks from her heart."
Mona’s favorite dishes to cook are traditional Damascene mezzeh (such as hummus and baba ghanoush) and also classic stuffed dishes like yalanji (stuffed vegetables), kibbeh (meat stuffed bulgur croquettes), and yabraq (stuffed grape leaves).
Aminah is from Homs, Syria. She arrived in New Haven on Election Day 2016 with her husband, Issa, and three children. In 2012, Aminah and her family fled Syria for Jordan on foot alongside other Syrians escaping war, walking for two hours at night with only the clothes on their backs. They are happy to be safe in America and seek better opportunities for their family.
Aminah loves to cook and hopes to start a catering business to help support her family. She started cooking when she was 10, learning from her brother who is a chef in Saudi Arabia. By age 15, she was able to make mahshi, an elaborate and time-consuming dish of stuffed vegetables.
Popular Syrian Items:
Hummus: Chickpea & sesame dip. (Vegan, Gluten Free). $3.50
Muhammara: Roasted red pepper, bulgar, walnut and pomegranate spread. (Vegan). $4.00
Yalanji: Grape leaves filled with rice, tomato, and parsley. (Vegan, Gluten Free). $4.50
Fatayer: Savory pastries filled with ground beef, spinach or cheese. $4.50
Kabsa: Golden spiced rice, served with chicken and nuts.
Mahshi: Assorted vegetables filled with rice, tomato, & parsley, cooked in a tomato broth. (Vegan, Gluten Free).
Ful Mudammes: Fava bean stew with tomatoes, tahini, and fresh herbs. \
Each of the Chef’s personal catering menus are listed below their bios.