This is a traditional Syrian saying which means there is now a connection between us because of the food we have shared together, no matter how simple. Connection is an over-used work, however it’s true meaning comes to life with a desperate yet amazing strength, that gives it a new element of necessity and hope.
Mouna Elkekhia moved to London several years ago to complete her Masters degree. She came from Syria with a plan to fly back once she has finished her studies. Mouna began working at Amnesty International, at this time the conflict in Syria began.
We all know the story.. and sadly we have all witnessed the devastation inside the country and the impetuous consequences it has left on its people, including the millions who as a result, have become refugees.
“That’s when I started cooking my mother’s recipes, it was a way for me to stay connected with my family, by recreating the wonderful memories of us all sitting together and sharing my mother’s delicious food. It became a very deep and personal connection.”
Mouna turned an upsetting situation into a spark of hope. After a successful career in human rights, Mouna wanted change and was ready to embark on a new journey of passion. Her cooking skills and her love of cooking for other people.
Mouna set up a catering company ‘Mouna’s Kitchen’ with the aim of bringing Syrian food and culture to London. Mouna’s Kitchen is constantly discovering the wide variety of delicious flavours in Syrian Middle Eastern cuisine, but are also determined to break boundaries and stereotypes that Syria, and the people affected by the conflict are usually portrayed.
“I left Amnesty when I was a Researcher and Advisor on refugee and migrant rights, it wasn’t an easy decision, but I felt I had to follow my passion to be able to have more of a hands-on impact.”
Let’s rewind a few months ago when Mercato Metropolitano and TERN (The Refugee Entrepreneurial Network) joined together for a project that invited food entrepreneurs to access opportunities within the UK market.
One of the awards granted within this project was the ‘Female Food Founder’ award, which Mouna Elkekhia won, with her incredible passion for food, delicious ingredients and her remarkable story of heritage, family and connection.
“I don’t just cook Syrian recipes, I cook my family’s traditional recipes that have been passed down for generations, rather than the ones you’d find in a cook book.”
You can find Mouna’s impeccable food at ‘Arnabeet’ inside our MM market in Elephant & Castle. Meaning cauliflower in Arabic, Arnabeet is at the heart of Mouna’s signature dish, showcasing crispy cauliflower drizzled with tarator, a tahini – garlic and lemon sauce – and topped with parsley and beautiful pomegranate seeds.
MM is inviting people, companies and policymakers across London, the UK and the world to join the movement to change food culture in the country. This is an open invitation for people who believe in:
Healthy, sustainable, living food made with rural, artisanal practices
Supply chains that prioritise quality over price and make good, healthy food available
The importance of community in cities across the world, starting with London