“This is the recipe that changed my life,” said chef Hamidullah Noori, a refugee from Afghanistan who was resettled with his family to the United States in 2015 through a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). “Sometimes I still cry when I peel potatoes.”
Chef Noori remembers his mom baking leftover potato skins and tossing them with sautéed vegetables in a sauce made from roasted red peppers. “This was our survival meal.”
“Life was very hard for us then,” he says, “and life is still very hard for the people there now. Even worse now. Thousands of children are suffering… mothers cook something for them to survive.”
Chef Noori, trained to cook in Afghanistan, began working in a kitchen immediately upon arriving in Virginia. A few years later he opened the Mantua restaurant in Richmond serving modern Afghan cuisine.
“When I first came to the United States, I went to the IRC to help me get a job in a restaurant. I showed some of my skills and talents, and they decided to change my position to chef.”
When he opened his restaurant, he named it The Mantu, after the Afghan dumpling. But the word also means ‘I and you’.
“I always feel responsible for hiring people in need,” says Chef Noori. “I got a call from the IRC, they said, ‘We have an Afghan cook.’ Now he is the chief of The Mantu.”
Chef Noori also works with the IRC to deliver meals to newly arrived immigrants, especially those from Afghanistan…recalling the welcome he and his family received at their new home in America and the chance to start afresh. to make.
“Between 1985 and 2015, I had no future,” he says. “Never thought of my dreams and goals, never of tomorrow – we never knew if we had tomorrow. This is the reality that people still face today.”
Below, Chef Noori shares his recipe for Mantu potato skins. Enjoying!
Mantu Potato Peels
Peeled skin of 5 potatoes, washed and dried with kitchen paper
Corn oil for frying
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped or julienne purple cabbage
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
2 tablespoons corn oil
Afghan spices, ground a pinch each:
Handful of fresh coriander
For the roasted red pepper sauce:
2 roasted red peppers, from a jar or roasted at home
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of minced garlic
Pinch of salt
Peel, wash and dry the skins of 5 potatoes.
Heat enough corn oil to cover the potato skins over medium heat. Add the potato skins and cook for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown. Put aside.
Saute the garlic, onions, red and green bell peppers, purple cabbage, and jalapeño in 2 tablespoons corn oil until soft and fragrant. Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped coriander.
Puree the roasted red peppers in a blender or food processor with extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a pinch of minced garlic, and a pinch of salt.
Spoon some of this sauce over the vegetables and toss with a pinch of salt, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and black pepper.
Toss the crispy potato skins into the vegetables until well coated.
Serve with a generous handful of chopped fresh coriander and an extra splash of red pepper sauce.
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