From Yemen to Jordan: A taste of home for a Yemeni family

Supported by the World Food Programme, they draw comfort from being able to make the traditional ‘shakshuka’

Dara Elmasri
Jun 19, 2020 · 3 min read
Abdou and Amani prepare shakshuka as three-year-old Basel plays around them in their kitchen. Photo: WFP/Dara Masri

A traditional dish made in many countries across the Middle East, shakshuka reminds Abdou and his family of their home in Yemen.

It takes around seven minutes and a few ingredients to make this one-pot healthy dish: tomatoes, onions, green peppers, eggs and a dash of salt and pepper.

“You can’t go wrong serving shakshuka for breakfast, dinner or lunch, it’s so easy and tasty,” says Abdou.

The family occupy a two-bedroom apartment in Jordan’s capital, Amman. They left Yemen five years ago when it was no longer safe for them to stay in their city. This meal reminds them of the good days they had.

Abdou helps Amani with cooking sometimes, but his specialty is the shakshuka dish. “I usually start by heating oil in a pan while Amani chops the onions, tomatoes and green pepper,” he says.

He cooks the vegetables for a few minutes until they begin to soften, adds salt and pepper to taste, and lets the ingredients simmer. Adding the eggs is the last step; Adbou mixes it with the vegetables until he gets the consistency his family enjoys. Then meal is ready to be served!

Abdou stirs the vegetables before adding eggs. Photo: WFP/Dara Masri

“We have shakshuka with Arabic bread, tea and some cold vegetables on the side,” says Amandi. “Adbou brings a small bowl of olives with every meal. It’s his favourite.”

Mandi, Yemen’s national dish, is the family’s favourite meal. “The circumstances don’t allow us to make Mandi as we cannot always afford its’ ingredients,” says Abdou.

The family gathers around to eat shakshuka for lunch. Photo: WFP/Mohammad Batah

Abdou has no stable source of income and works here and there in vegetable and fruit markets. It’s a good day for the family when he finds an opportunity to work, as they barely make ends meet.

Similar to the 10,000 non-Syrian refugees the World Food Programme (WFP) supports, the family receives monthly cash assistance to cover their food and other basic needs.

“Without WFP’s assistance, we cannot buy food to feed the children, nor use some of the money to pay rent,” says Abdou. “It’s a blessing to have an understanding owner who is flexible with rent when times are hard for us.”

Abdou makes shakshuka to remind the family of the taste of home, while Amani hopes to return to a safe Yemen and make Mandi like she used to.”

Learn more about WFP’s work in Jordan

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

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