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Syrian Supper Club
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Cyrenians Flavour & Haver Cook School
66-68 Jane Street,
Edinburgh,
Eh6 5HG

A few times a month, on a nondescript industrial estate in Leith, something rather special happens.

The Cyrenians, a charity specialising in supporting those at risk of homelessness and social exclusion, throws open the doors of their Flavour and Haver cookery school to the hungry general public.

The chef in charge of the kitchen is Noura Selibi, a Syrian refugee, new Edinburgh resident and truly excellent cook. This is the Syrian Supper club, a sell-out event since it was launched in August 2018.

The supper club raises funds for the vital work of the Cyrenians and provides a fair wage for the talented refugee chefs.

When we arrive it’s clear that cooking has been going on for hours with many bubbling pans and colourful salads being prepared. Guests are seated around two large communal tables in the bright dining room where they can chat with their neighbours in a convivial atmosphere. Everyone is welcome to have a nosey around the kitchen to see what’s going on, and perhaps even get the chance to learn some new skills from our Syrian hosts. We help Noura make pastries using a mould she brought from Palmyra.

Around 8pm food starts appearing from the kitchen, starting with sambousek pies, a stuffed and fried samosa-like snack with beautifully flavoured meat and vegetables, and aromas of cinnamon, cloves and cumin. Soft and spicy kofte come next, beautifully presented and utterly delicious.  Chef Noura then introduces a groaning table of colourful dishes, some initially familiar - hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh - but so much better than any we’ve tasted before.  The hummus is smooth and rich and the baba ganoush has an addictive smoky depth. There are new favourites to discover too, a rice dish chicken mansaf is smoked over charcoal and has us filling our plates many times over. Vegetarians are well catered for and the room is full of very happy eaters.

When the last dishes have left the kitchen, the chefs and volunteers find space to join us at the table to eat, swap stories and learn more about each other’s food and culture.

Later there’s tea, coffee and the lightest and delectable walnut baklava which has us wishing we had space just to keep on eating.

This is no ordinary dining experience and it’s not one to be missed.

Keep an eye on the Cyrenian’s Eventbrite page for upcoming events. (A. Sheldon) 

Tickets available from Eventbrite

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