Local Afghan Food Course Has Global Impact — Plus Authentic Afghan Recipes


In a crowded room at the Centennial Crescent Community Centre all eyes are to the front of the class.

As Soriya Basirmonsef describes the ingredients in front of her, a diverse group of 10 people pay rapt attention, not wanting to miss any of the information that will help transform the table-full of random foodstuffs into aromatic and sumptuous-tasting Persian Food.

Within minutes, the quiet calm transforms itself into a bustling hive of activity as participants start slicing, dicing, chopping and boiling. The simmering smell of an Afghan kitchen soon begins to waft throughout the room.

It’s all part of a new initiative that sees Soriya use her love and knowledge of traditional cooking as a means of raising awareness around the issues of women’s rights in Afghanistan. It’s also an innovative way to help raise funds for CW4W (Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan)

Afghan women’s rights have deteriorated over the past three decades. Under the tyrannical rule of extremists, such as the mujahideen and the Taliban, women have struggled to gain freedoms and reform a society that is primarily male dominant. While things are slowly improving in Afghanistan, women still face astonishing rates of violence, are often barred from education, and lack the opportunity for meaningful employment — a situation that resonates with Soriya, an Afghan mother of 3 daughters who was widowed at the young age of 23.

While the underlying reasons behind the cooking courses are deadly serious, the courses themselves are fun and


energetic — they are times for sharing laughter as well well as knowledge.  They’re a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

My visit to today’s class coincided with a special announcement. Soriya’s daughter, Maryam Monsef had gathered local media together to release the results of the 2012 Red Pashmina Campaign — Monsef and fellow Red Pashmina co-founder, Jessica Melnik, are cross promoting the two initiatives and were on hand to help with the cooking course.

Throughout the Red Pashmina campaign, red cashmere scarves (pashminas) are sold in retail outlets throughout Peterborough, including: the YWCA, the New Canadians Centre, Tango, My Left Breast, Glow Maternity, Le Joie de Vie, Tia Star, Benevolent Stranger and Sympathy for the Rebel.

Over the past year — its third — Red Pashmina raised over $6,700. Funds raised will be directed to CW4W Afghan’s Lantern Fund. Launched in November 2012, this special campaign raises revenue to sustain teacher training programs in Afghanistan. An estimated 70% of Afghan teachers currently working in classrooms have had little to no previous teacher training and most have no post-secondary education of any kind. Many have not even completed high school. The lack of trained male and female teachers directly affects girls’ access to school and drastically affects quality of education.


Like the cooking course, the Pashmina program is truly an empowering one.  Look for my coverage of the program’s success in tomorrow’s Small Print blog.

As the course progressed, participants began to assemble some truly mouthwatering dishes — food that was definitely worth the $20 weekly course fee. Soriya was kind enough to share the recipes.  You can find them below.

To register for the next class, contact Daphne Ingram daphne.ingram650@gmail.com, 705 656-3820.


From the organizers of Soriya’s Afghan Cooking Classes:

WHERE: Centennial Crescent Community Centre, 1770 Stenson Blvd. (opposite the entrance to Fleming). The classes will be held in the community building in the centre of the crescent. Park in the visitors parking spots or beside #38 (ignore the handicapped designation). Soriya says you can also use the staff parking because it is on Sunday.
WHEN: The first class will be held on Sunday, Jan. 6 from 2 to 5 p.m. and on alternate Sundays for as long as there is interest.
COST: $20 per class or any 3 classes for $50
REGISTRATION: You must register in advance (at least 3 days before) for each class by emailing Daphne at daphne.ingram650@gmail.com or calling 705 656-3820. Classes will be filled as the registrations come in and you will be notified if a class is full.
Please inform on registration of any food allergies


Recipes — taken directly from Soriya’s notes.


1lb meat (usually goat or lamb, but Soriya used beef for the class)
3 medium onions
1/2 cup yogurt
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of each: black pepper, tumeric, cinnamon
1/4 tsp of cayenne
5tbs of any kind of oil (olive would work)
4 cups of water


  • Wash and chop the meat (size doesn’t matter)
  • Mince the garlic, grate one onion — mix both with spices, 2 tbsp of oil, and yogurt. Let marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours in a covered bowl
  • Add remainder of oil to a sturdy pot with a cover — fry remaining grated/finely chopped onions until golden
  • Add the meat mixture and stir fry it until golden
  • Pour in water, cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until meat is tender.
  • Alternately, this can be done in an oven-proof dish at 350 degrees
  • There should be aproximately 1 cup of liquid left when it is cooked
  • Serve in a deep plate, covered with a pita — eat it warm with bread, rice, or pasta.

Baghali Palow


Basmati rice, 700gBaby lima beens (fresh or frozen), 300g
Butter/Vegetable oil, 200g
Fresh dill, 3 cups
Medium potatoes, 2 (optional), sliced
Powdered saffron, 1/4 tsp
Salt, 5tsp


  • Wash rice and soak for at least 2 hours.
  • In a large pot, at at least 10 cups of water and 5tbs of salt, heat on high.
  • In a small pot, place lima beans in 2 cups of water over medium heat — cover until cooked and water has been absorbed — set aside.
  • Wash the dill 3 times, rinse it, chop it, and set it aside.
  • When the water in the large pot is boiling, drain rice and add to the water – stir gently.  Boil uncovered for 4-6 minutes, drain into a collander.
  • Melt 4 tbsp of butter/oil in the pot — sprinkle 2 spoons of rice on the bottom and then arrange potato slices in a single layer.
  • Mix the remaining rice with the lima beans and dill and add to the pot in the shape of a pyramid.
  • Add 1/4 cup of warm water, sprinkle some oil on the rice, and then cover again.
  • Heat on medium for 4 minutes and then lower the heat to minimum — or you can transfer it to a 200 degree oven — cook for 30 min – 1 hour.
  • To serve: heat the remaining oil and pour over rice.  Mix 1/2 cup of rice with saffron and 2tbsp rosewater.  Spread over top of dish.

Coming Soon: Dairy Night in Canada

I’ll be honest here…

I’m pretty darned happy that NHL hockey is back. I’m a traditionalist, you see. I keep the faith.

Like the good Canadian that I am, I believe in hockey. It’s a religion to me.

Let me tell you one of my fondest memories — or rather a series of my fondest memories, because it used to happen frequently enough.

I used to live in Lake Louise, AB. Being a poor recent university graduate (with a minimum-wage ski-bum job), all I had for a TV was an ancient 11-inch black and white relic with rabbit ears. On a clear day, I could get CBC North fairly clearly. Each Saturday night, I would park myself in front of that old TV, light my old hurricane lantern, and squint as the snow on the screen combated the blowing snow that often whipped against my window. Beer in hand, I would transport myself back to the 1950’s — the Golden era of the game. Sure the hockey was modern, but the mood definitely wasn’t.

These days, the technology is a bit different. I usually have one game playing on our flat screen TV (which, I’m proud to admit, only gets one channel — our CBC affiliate, CHEX TV), and another on my computer. But I still never miss a week.

As a hockey widow, Krista has found her own Saturday night tradition. Actually, who is kidding who? With her several hours of husband-free freedom, she has learned to celebrate Saturday in her own style.

On Saturday nights, you see, Krista does her weekly food prep. Glass of Riesling on the counter, TED Talks on her iPod or iPad, she gets out the pots and starts heating up milk. She also fires up the oven. And then she gets to work.

Stay tuned here for some of her Saturday night traditions: goat yoghurt, soft goat cheese, and the best darned granola you’ll ever find. She’s excited to share.

Also, watch for some more of my fun hockey night pub foods.

Something for everyone in the upcoming weeks at Farm to Table!

Game on!

A Taste of Italy: Fundraiser for Fleming Culinary and the Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre


Local celebrities participated in the Sweet Dreams Dessert Competition on Jan. 7 at the Sutherland Campus. With the help of Fleming College culinary students, the celebrity chefs prepared desserts to be judged by Maggie McKeown, star of the Food Network’s “Recipes to Riches.” The winning dessert will be served at the A Taste of Italy fundraiser.  Seen here, Chamber of Commerce CEO, Stuart Harrison.

 My good friends at the Fleming College are hosting an exciting upcoming shin-dig.

From the official Media Release:

PETERBOROUGH, January 7, 2013 – Dean Del Mastro, Member of Parliament for Peterborough Riding and Dr. Tony Tilly, Fleming College President today announced a premier event in support of students in Culinary programs at Fleming College and the new Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre.

The event, “A Taste of Italy” presented by The WOLF 101.5 FM, CHEX Television and 100.5 The KRUZ FM will take place at the Sutherland Campus of Fleming College on Friday, Jan. 25 and will feature Maggie McKeown of Recipe to Riches on the Food Network. The event will offer an authentic five-course Italian feast, with wine pairings created by the students and faculty of Fleming College’s Culinary programs.

Dessert for the event will be the result of an exciting “Sweet Dreams” Dessert Competition, held on Jan. 7. Local celebrity chefs, assisted by Fleming College culinary students battled it out in the kitchen to prepare a dessert for Food Network’s Maggie McKeown, who will act as a celebrity judge and will award bragging rights and a personalized chef’s jacket to the winner.

The festivities will also feature a dance and live auction with one-of-a-kind items such as:

  • Tickets for two to a Rihanna Concert at the Air Canada Centre with deluxe accommodations;
  • A private catered group dinner in the Fleming College Food Lab prepared by the College’s Culinary Department; and
  • A personal tour of Parliament Hill and a meal in the Parliamentary Restaurant with MP Del Mastro.

“I am very excited to be co-hosting this dinner at Fleming College.” stated Dean Del Mastro, Member of Parliament for Peterborough. “Through the Good Samaritan Hands-Up Foundation – a fund within the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough, this event will raise much needed funding to provide Fleming College students with the resources that they need to explore a career in the skilled trades. The Kawartha Trades & Technology Centre will help grow our local economy, provide good jobs with good wages to our ever-changing workforce and it will make our region a better place to live, work and play.”

“We are very excited for A Taste of Italy, which not only will be a fun evening for our guests, but a great, hands-on learning experience for Culinary students,” said Fleming College President Dr. Tony Tilly. “I’m looking forward to enjoying the five-course Italian feast, and am happy that so many members of our community will be showing their support for our Culinary students and the new Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre.”

This initiative is supported in part through a donor advised fund within the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough. Donor advised funds are convenient, flexible tools for individuals, groups and families that wish to be personally involved in suggesting grants made possible by their gifts. This fund is a community initiative of Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro and is supported through community fundraising activities that are organized and executed by volunteers working to build a strong and vibrant Peterborough.

Tickets for the “Taste of Italy” event are $125 per person, with a portion of the ticket price eligible for a charitable tax receipt. To order tickets, or for more information, please contact Arla Whalen at (705) 749-5530 ext. 1664 or by email at AdvancementEvents@flemingc.on.ca

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About the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough

The Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough fosters philanthropy through the creation and management of endowed and special funds. Its grants to registered charities enhance the quality of life for local citizens. It is a part of a national network of more than 180 community foundations across Canada. The Foundation enables all residents to contribute to positive, lasting changes in our community.

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: Fifth Town is Back!


A quick bit of news that will make local cheese-lovers happy.

According to the most excellent “Cheese and Toast” blog, it appears that Fifth Town Artisan Cheese will be opening for business again after closing last spring.

You can find the latest news here.

Thanks to Cheese and Toast’s Sue Riedl for breaking the news.

Here at Farm to Table, were looking forward to stocking up on their entire product line.

And to celebrate?  Some Monty Python: [embedplusvideo height=”365″ width=”600″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/-xLUEMj6cwA?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=-xLUEMj6cwA&width=600&height=365&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep5725″ /]