Food is universal. No matter where in the world you are, food is a way to bring communities together. It connects people. Sharing a recipe can be as powerful as sharing your story. Join us and cook with refugees from around the world as they share their recipes from home.

Jacqueline demonstrates how she prepares the mahshi dish. “This recipe is for special guests, when you want to spoil them and show a hospitality gesture!”, she says.
Photo: IRC

In 2021, the IRC held cooking workshops for refugee and Greek women living on the Island of Lesvos, Greece. The workshops brought together local and refugee women, to promote common experiences and mutual understanding through the universal language of food. The women shared recipes that were personal to them and reminded them of home. 

Meet Jacqueline, who tells us about her vegan mahshi. 

Jacqueline’s vegan mahshi recipe

Jacqueline came to Greece two years ago with her brother to claim asylum. She now lives in Mavrovouni refugee camp on the island of Lesbos.

“I want to stay in Greece”, says Jacqueline, who is Kurdish and from Syria, “because I feel like [I’m at] home here.” 

Jacqueline is taking Greek classes organised by the IRC twice a week. She was nervous about starting the language class. “At first, I didn’t want to begin, I was afraid, but after some classes with Maria [her teacher], I felt really comfortable.”

As Jacqueline waits for a decision on her asylum claim, preparing food has brought her joy. 

“I want to be happy; this means cooking for other people.”

And her delicious meals have proved very popular.

“I cooked for people inside the camp in Moria and everyone loved the food, so word spread out for my cooking”, she says. “I have since cooked for the management of the camp in Lesvos and NGO visitors.”

Fresh vegetables and rice are the essence of Jacqueline's recipe: vegan mahshi.

One of Jacqueline’s recipes is for Mahshi - a vegan meal made up of stuffed vegetables with rice. 

“This recipe is for special guests, when you want to spoil them and show a hospitality gesture! For us Kurds, the longer a dish gets to be ready, the more you show to your guests how you appreciate them.” 

Jacqueline, who lost her parents when she was young, taught herself how to make the dish.

Read the cookbook: Recipes from Home

She says she is like a mother in the camp: “I cook for everyone who doesn’t know how to cook.”

It’s not easy for Jacqueline to prepare food in the camp’s “complicated” conditions, which include sharing a tent with four other people. 

“In the camp, I can only cook when there is electricity,” she explains.

“Living in a tent, I am adapting my cooking to two hours of electricity, and I have to prepare everything beforehand.”

But sharing meals can create a sense of community, Jacqueline says.

“I love making foods to bring people together, laugh, eat, and create connections.”

This vegan mahshi recipe serves approximately six people.
Photo: IRC

Follow the steps below to learn how to make Jacqueline’s vegan Mahshi.


“I want to be happy; this means cooking for other people,” says Jacqueline.
Photo: IRC