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These Refugee Chefs Are Teaching Locals How To Cook Their Recipes From Home

At Über den Tellerrand refugee chefs share recipes from home, which they then cook and eat together with locals and fellow newcomers in the city.

Last updated on September 20, 2017, at 11:37 a.m. ET

Posted on September 20, 2017, at 11:37 a.m. ET

Über den Tellerrand, which roughly translates to "Beyond the Plate," is a nonprofit organization in Berlin that connects refugees with local Berliners for meals and cooking classes.

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Usually a refugee chef shares a recipe from home, which they then cook and eat together with locals or fellow newcomers in the city, and in the process share their experiences and build friendships.

The organization was founded with the idea of "creating awareness for the human being behind the label 'refugee'," Über den Tellerend's communication manager Lisa Thaens told BuzzFeed News.

I'm currently in Berlin so I decided to take part in one of the cooking sessions.

That's me putting on an apron.
Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

That's me putting on an apron.

I enjoy cooking, but I usually do it only for myself or maybe my two flatmates at most. I've never cooked with or for a big group before, so I was pretty nervous and excited to see what it would be like.

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We made a recipe for an Indian curry by Mudar al Sheich, a 32-year-old refugee from Syria, who has been working with Über den Tellerend for a few years now.

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Here are some of the ingredients we used.

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Before we got to chopping up our veggies, though, we had to go around the table and introduce ourselves.

My group was a good mix of refugees, other newcomers in the city, as well as locals who've been in Berlin for a while.
Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

My group was a good mix of refugees, other newcomers in the city, as well as locals who've been in Berlin for a while.

After that, we got to work.

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One thing I noticed about cooking in a big group is that it's definitely a whole lot quicker than when you are cooking by yourself. This meal would have probably taken me more than three hours to make on my own.

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Although everyone was doing something different, it was a really great environment for socializing.

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Here's Ghaith Hanki, a 25-year-old Syrian refugee who has been granted asylum in Germany for three years, delivering the chicken to al Sheich for the curry.

Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

"I think food is very important for people, because they are thinking all the time about their stomachs and how they can feed themselves," al Sheich said. "So it's a good way to know people or to bring them together."

Although he has made a lot of friends through sharing his cooking, al Sheich said Germany still doesn't feel like home for him."I miss my country, the air, the earth, even the taste of the fruit is different. Everything is different," he said. "I hope that the war is done in our country so we can go back there. Our country needs us. If the young people don't go back, who will build the country again?"
Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

Although he has made a lot of friends through sharing his cooking, al Sheich said Germany still doesn't feel like home for him.

"I miss my country, the air, the earth, even the taste of the fruit is different. Everything is different," he said. "I hope that the war is done in our country so we can go back there. Our country needs us. If the young people don't go back, who will build the country again?"

While the others were cooking, I helped Amir Firestone, a 23-year-old from Los Angeles, knead dough for Malawach, a Yemeni Jewish fried bread.

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You're supposed to butter the table, and then spread the dough out as thinly as possible without ripping it, which I wasn't very good at.

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Here's my terrible first attempt. I had to roll that one up and try again. Apparently kneading dough takes practice.

Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

Hanki was a lot better at it than I was. Here he is tying it into a knot.

Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

Noor Edres, a 26-year-old from Syria who has been in Berlin for four years said she loves Berlin because everyone is different: "You don't have a certain status to conform to and can just be yourself."

"Freedom is unlimited in every single regard," she said, which sounded pretty good to me.
Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

"Freedom is unlimited in every single regard," she said, which sounded pretty good to me.

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In the end, they still managed to cook the dough knot thing I had made, which was great.

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By that point things were also starting to smell really, really good.

Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

Chef al Sheich gave me a quick taste of the curry, which I can confirm tasted as good as it smelled.

Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

Finally, it was time to eat.

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The meal we cooked together was incredible. Everything looked and smelled amazing.

Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed
Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed
Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

And of course it was absolutely delicious.

Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed
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