CRAVE: Culture, memories make dishes more than a meal

For many people who’ve fled their home countries looking for a better life, everything is left behind except for beautiful memories immortalized in the recipes they brought along with them.

These tasty dishes represent cultures in which cooking is valued as an act of love for family, not just an elevated art that professionals practice in restaurants.

We hope that as you read these recipes and sit down to share this food with others, you’ll allow the story of our common human experience to serve as a platform for deeper connection. Most importantly, as you prepare these delicious recipes, don’t forget to mix in your own version of love, passion, and pride–three truly essential ingredients for the success of every dish!

Kuku Sabzi

Although it may translate as such to Western audiences, calling kuku sabzi (“coo-coo sahb-zeh”) a “frittata” is doing it a disservice. The stars of this dish are the herbs; the eggs simply hold everything together. Green garlic–young garlic with tender leaves and a milder flavor than the bulbs–can be found at farmers markets in early spring. The zereshk (“zhur-uhsh-keh,” barberries) add a nice tangy component. If you can’t find them, dried red currants or unsweetened cranberries–chopped, if they aren’t very small–can be used in a pinch. Yield: 6 appetizer-sized servings.


6 cups finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 cups finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 cups finely chopped fresh dill fronds

1/2 cup shelled and coarsely chopped walnuts

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (green garlic optional)

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup dried zereshk, plus more for garnish

6 large eggs, lightly beaten


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 10-inch round cake pan with cooking spray; line with parchment paper.

2. Place herbs, walnuts, garlic, turmeric, salt, pepper, and zereshk in a medium mixing bowl, and stir to combine.

3. Add eggs to bowl, and fold in to coat the filling.

4. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake until eggs are set, 20 to 25 minutes.

5. Sprinkle a few zereshk over the top, if desired. Cut into wedges, and serve.

Chef Nasrin, Iran

Potato Kibbeh

Although kibbeh (pronounced “kib-uh”)–hand-shaped potato croquettes stuffed with beef and herbs–is often made with bulgur (a type of wheat), Dhuha omits it and uses breadcrumbs in a potato shell. When forming the kibbeh, try to create a flat disc around the filling. Yield: about 16 kibbeh.


4 russet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into quarters

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs

4 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for deep-frying

2 cups finely chopped yellow onions

1 pound ground beef (80 percent lean)

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

5 teaspoons seven spices (see below)

5 teaspoons ground cumin


1. Place potatoes in a large pot. Add water to cover potatoes by 1 inch, and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cook until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes, and then return to pot. Add cornstarch, breadcrumbs, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Mash potatoes, and stir to incorporate all ingredients. Set aside.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Then, add ground beef, remaining 3 teaspoons salt, and pepper, and cook until meat is brown and cooked through, another 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat, and let beef mixture cool slightly. If there’s any excess oil in skillet, drain beef mixture in a colander to remove fat, and then add parsley, seven spices, and cumin, and stir to combine.

4. To assemble kibbeh, take about 2 tablespoons potato mixture, and form into a flat disc in your hand. Place about 1 tablespoon meat filling in the center. Carefully envelop filling within potato shell, sealing filling inside. Once sealed, gently flatten the sphere into a small disc. Set aside. Kibbeh can be made ahead and frozen, uncooked, for up to 1 week.

5. To fry kibbeh, pour remaining vegetable oil to a depth of at least 2 inches into a large stockpot or Dutch oven, and clip a candy thermometer to the side, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom. Heat oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit over high heat, and then lower heat to medium to maintain that temperature during frying. While oil is heating, line a large plate with paper towels.

6. Working in batches and taking care not to overcrowd the pot, slowly lower 3 or 4 kibbeh into oil using a slotted spoon. Fry kibbeh until deep golden-brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove with a mesh strainer, and place on towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil. Allow oil to return to 375 degrees in between batches, if necessary.

7. Let kibbeh cool for about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Chef Dhuha, Iraq


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