Cook, food writer and stylist Rosie Birkett recognises the feeling of helplessness many experience when confronted with the situation in Syria: “The humanitarian crisis is completely devastating and it’s easy to feel totally helpless. Being a small part of a big movement and encouraging people to mobilise this not just locally but globally, through the universal act of cooking and eating, means that in some way I can try and help. I’m very proud to be supporting this campaign.”
Birkett shares the thinking behind her recipe for crispy kale and roast squash mujadara: “It’s inspired by mujadara, a Syrian and Middle Eastern staple with many regional variations, based around lentils and rice or bulgar wheat. Mine has a British twist by using celeriac, which is in season during November to reflect the spirit of the campaign.”
Her focus in creating a dish was to make something that was accessible to any cook that still represented Syrian cuisine: “The idea of raising money and awareness for UNICEF UK’s Children of Syria fund through celebrating their cuisine was the driving force. I wanted a dish that was relatively achievable that appealed to everyone – something comforting and great for sharing.” In her research, Birkett realised just how diverse and rich Syrian cuisine is. “Most of the dishes I found out about I wanted to cook, and I will certainly be cooking more things inspired by the cuisine in future.”
Recipes by Rosie Birkett and others can be found in the #CookForSyria Recipe Book, available for purchase on amazon.co.uk. All profits will be donated to aid children affected by the crisis in Syria.