The place there’s meals, there’s hope. The cobbled pathways of Semmozhi Poonga remodeled right into a packed fete, as a number of asylum seekers from Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, provided Chennaites a tasty number of conventional delicacies from their homeland on June 24 and 25, as a part of the Refugee Meals Pageant, Oorum Unnavam.
Attendees sampled greater than only one dish, flitting from sales space to sales space, and laughing with household and newfound buddies. Dad and mom took the chance to introduce their kids to various flavours they might not encounter in any other case. On the menu, had been conventional dishes cooked by refugees who’ve been residing in Tamil Nadu.
From the Afghan kitchen, guests might strive Kabuli pulao, mantu (savoury dumplings stuffed with rooster and onions and firni), a calming custard pudding made from pistachios, rice and milk, amongst different dishes. Choices from the Myanmar kitchen included dhooi pila, a rice and jaggery primarily based dessert and la paasu, a tangy lentil salad seasoned with lime and horseradish. Dishes from the Sri Lankan kitchen – cooked by ladies from Olai Puttu, a restaurant primarily based in Thoothukudi, run by ladies from refugee camps in and round Thoothukudi – included fashionable specialities equivalent to coconut milk sodhi, puttu with sambal and egg rolls. Different stalls served paan (a fluffy bread) with prawn curry, fish rolls and — since it’s the yr of the millet — crumbly millet ladoos, wealthy with jaggery and coconut.
Held to mark World Refugee Day, this occasion’s theme was ‘Hope Away From Residence: a world the place refugees are all the time included’. The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, with all of the stalls promoting out, and the world set aside for fish and rooster curry meals busy with diners who waited their turns patiently in queue.
Attended by about 8,000 individuals over the weekend, the occasion was organised by the UNHCR and the Chennai Area Workplace, Organisation for Eelam Refugees’ Rehabilitation (OfERR), Benefit Meals (Scorching Breads, Author’s Café) and different stakeholders alongside aspect the Tamil Nadu Authorities.
Meals is a common expertise, which the refugees acknowledged as a major cultural catalyst. Mohammed Jumaid, a 19-year-old Rohingya from Myanmar who has been residing in Chennai for over 12 years, says, “As refugees, we don’t have a lot to start with — we don’t have a home, we didn’t have any land, however now we have the reminiscence of Burma and the recipes we grew up with. Now, we will shock the individuals of Chennai with our flavours.”
By way of the sale of meals, the organisers had been in a position to elevate over ₹4.5 lakhs to assist additional refugee rehabilitation and integration. “These individuals left their homelands within the face of adversity, and have been on the recieving finish for years,” says SC Chandrahasan, founding father of OfFER “This pageant is a means of giving again — now we have empowered these individuals (refugees) to face on their toes and be able to sharing their concepts and facilitating an interchange between cultures.”
Refugee ladies who are sometimes unnoticed, had the chance to convey to gentle the contributions of girls, and all that goes into the making of a culinary custom. Shaja Begum, one of many devoted ladies behind the scenes, shared, “Now we have devoted numerous hours to arrange these recipes and prepare dinner these meals, pouring our hearts into each dish. As a result of by our meals, we convey our tales, and our spirit.”