The best falafel in town

By Mohammed Majbur

A lunchtime stroll in the centre of Athens was exactly what was needed before heading to Abu Hamid’s in Vathi Square. Hamid came from Syria in 1999, in search of a better life. He dreamed of opening his own business, fell in love with Greece and stayed!

“I have always worked in restaurants which is why I decided to open my own here in Greece so that people could learn about Arabic food”, remarked the Syrian entrepreneur. “It wasn’t easy for various reasons,” he continued. “For a start, I didn’t speak Greek. Then my financial situation wasn’t good and in order to make enough money to open my own business I had to do several jobs. In the end, I learnt Greek and managed to save up the money I needed to open the restaurant.”

He claims that the key to his success so far is the fact that he uses top-quality oil, and very fresh vegetables, his establishment is very clean, he looks after his customers and is committed to quality and flavour.

Talking of food, one of the most popular dishes that all Arabs and quite a few Greeks and tourists love is falafel. “Falafel is well known in the Arabic world,” said Abu Hamid, “all Arabs like it and Greeks have taken to it too, some of them even make it at home. As a result, I have European as well as Arab customers.”

Other countries famous for this well-known dish are Egypt and Lebanon, although it actually originates from Palestine.

Hamid Abu

Luckily for us, Abu Hamid revealed his recipe for the famous falafel. “The ingredients are: chickpeas, onion, garlic, salt, spices, black pepper, coriander, cloves, flour, sesame, parsley and oil for the frying pan. Mix all the ingredients together and put them in the fridge for a quarter of an hour. Then shape the mixture into small balls, heat the oil and fry the falafel. Serve it with a salad of tomatoes, cucumber and spearmint.”

Abu Hamid from Syria has managed to turn his business into one of Athens’ most popular destinations. He also thanked the Greek people for helping refugees.

“My advice to my young compatriots is to respect the country they are living in, and to learn Greek so that they do not rely on handouts from the government. They need to earn their own living.”

We thanked Abu Hamid for his time and made an appointment to return for lunch the following day.

This article was originally published in the fourth issue of ‘Migratory Birds’. The fourth issue of ‘Migratory Birds’ was produced by the Network for Children’s Rights, and supported by UNICEF with funding by the European Commission — Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, and the Foreign Federal Office of Germany. This edition was further funded by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung– Office in Greece, and published in Greece’s Efsyn newspaper on October 27, 2017.

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