I've never had Syrian food in my life. When my friends and I crave something non-western, it's either Indian, Chinese, or Thai, and if it's Middle Eastern food, that usually means falafels and hummus. While I'm aware there's so much more than that, I was beyond excited to get ahold of the Middle Eastern Delicacies that were prepped on the evening of Monday, April 10th. 

wine, beer
Photo courtesy of Sandra Sikkema

Spoon Amsterdam collaborated with Right 2 Education (R2E), a non-profit organization founded and run by current Amsterdam University College (AUC) students, to get to know more about authentic Syrian food. What better way to do this than by cooking it ourselves while learning from those who know best.

R2E aims to give refugees opportunities to learn Dutch and English of all levels, but also a chance to integrate in the community through various social activities. On campus they are known as guest students. Among all of the events, the food nights are always some of the most successful.

rice, chicken
Photo courtesy of Sandra Sikkema

The cooking began at approximately 5 pm and after two and a half hours later we were finally able to eat. Not only were we clearing our plates out of hunger but also out of pure deliciousness. If you missed out on the night itself, then I recommend you to give these recipes a try at home. 


You can find mlokhia cooked in all kinds of forms throughout the Middle East. It's essentially a type of leaf that when exposed to water, releases a kind of viscous syrup that is said to resemble an okra-like taste. It's also high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and definitely satisfying when cooked right.

Eggplant Kebab

chili, stir-fry, vegetable, pepper
Diana Ghidanac

While we normally associate kebabs with meat and veggie skewers made on the grill, this homemade version is made in the oven. You can cook the vegetables alongside the meat and the eggplant like in the picture above, or follow this recipe here

Vegan Egyptian Hawawshi

The Egyptian hawawshi is traditionally made with lean ground beef, but for the dinner, we went for a vegan alternative. You can either make your own dough or use a pre-made version, fill it with your choice of vegetables, and then bake it in the oven for about 10 minutes. When struck for time or energy, this would be a perfect go-to.


pepper, cheese, salad, lettuce, tomato, vegetable
Diana Ghidanac

If tabbouleh is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Middle Eastern salads, I don't blame you. If so then it's time to get acquainted with fattoush–an equally delicious and refreshing salad with lots of herbs, vegetables, and an added crunch from the toasted pita chips. It shouldn't be too difficult to make something similar, but to get the fattoush flavours right, you'll be needing a recipe


Freekeh, pronounced free-kah, is no more than an ancient wheat grain that might even be more nutritious than quinoa. While this might be a superfood for some, it actually goes way back in Middle Eastern cuisine. 

To make a traditional dish at home, start by boiling your chicken in water (recommended to use chicken breast).  After cooking the chicken, use the same water for the freekeh. Cook it as you would with quinoa or any other grain. The dish we had was topped with chicken and nuts, but of course there's nothing stopping you from enjoying freekeh if you're vegan or vegetarian. 

caramel, peanut butter, peanut, chocolate
Diana Ghidanac

Besides the night itself being a success, it was truly rewarding to see everyone working together in the kitchen. When in doubt, food is easily the best way to get to know one another and make it that much easier to break down boundaries between strangers. We hope for more fun events like these in the future, and thank R2E and the guest students for all their help and their delicious recipes.