Huddled on the floor, Syrian refugee Abu Sayid reminisces about the journey from his hometown of Daraa’ in Syria to Jordan’s Zaatari camp while helping his wife prepare staple Syrian dishes - ‘kubbeh’ and ‘shishbarak’ dumplings. The first consists of bulgur wheat balls stuffed with mincemeat and onions and the other is a thin dough with mincemeat filling cooked in a yoghurt stew.
When shrapnel hit Abu Sayid’s home in Daraa’ two years ago, the father of four knew he had to make the tough decision to get his family out of Syria.
“We left with nothing but the clothes on our back, with just one aim - getting to safety,” Abu Sayid explains.
Arriving in Zaatari, they were struck by the harsh reality of living in a tent in a large swathe of arid land - a far cry from the home they had in Daraa’. Today, life has improved for Abu Sayid as the camp has developed into a city-like site with its own markets and small businesses.
For Syrian refugees like Abu Sayid and his family, cooking is not only a means of survival, it helps them remember life back home.
“WFP vouchers allow us to get any food we need from stores around here,” Abu Sayid says as he seals a kubbah ball while his wife starts frying the first batch of dumplings.
Once the food is ready, the family gathers round and Abu Sayid proudly presents the kubbeh and shishbarak along with salad and yoghurt.
“In Syria, we like to laugh and joke around a meal. It makes the food more enjoyable,” Abu Sayid says with a smile.