Two cooks; one potato

In partnership with Sophia Hoffmann and DailyBreadMag, where this post was first published in German.

Cooking is not only enjoyable, it also joins cultures. That’s why I met with Anas, a refugee from Aleppo, to do some cooking together. We shared two culturally unifying recipes based around a vegetable.

Every weekend, once all the bloggers have gone home, the Blogfabrik office is used for something of a more delicious nature. Launched by Give Something Back to Berlin (GSBTB), an international cooking party takes place every week in our kitchen: the GSBTB Cooking Group.

We want to bring the bloggers and the cooking group together regularly in the kitchen in a new DailyBreadMag format.

The principle is easy: two people, two recipes, one ingredient and an article for DailyBreadMag and GSBTB’s own blog:

For this first post, Anas and I will start with a potato!

Anas comes from Aleppo. There he worked successfully as an architect. He was in the midst of his life; he had a great social life, an apartment, his career. When war first broke out, Anas fled to Oman. Now he has been living in Berlin for four months. He lives together with many people whose languages he doesn’t understand in residential accommodation in Marzahn. There, Anas has almost no privacy. He yearns for independence, freedom and his own everyday life.

Anas is a doer, just like me. We are the same age. He wants to build a new life for himself and is looking to the future. He is working hard to learn German and is searching for a job in his old profession. He hates sitting around and waiting; it makes him nervous and seems extremely wasteful to him. That I can completely understand. What helps him is cooking. He first got really into it when he had to leave his home country. “Cooking gives me a sense of security and eating makes me happy,” he says.

We are cooking two dishes with potatoes. I am preparing a classic German potato salad. It is a vegan dish using vegetable stock instead of beef bouillon. To provide visual relief I will add a few purple potatoes to go with it. Meanwhile, Anas’ potatoes are cooked with garlic and ground coriander. They will be cooked in oil, so a little bit like Syrian chips. This will also be served with fried peppers. Mhmmmm.

If you want to take part in the GSBTB Cooking Group, then check out our Facebook page. Everyone is invited to participate.

Here are our recipes:

Sophia’s colourful potato salad.

Ingredients (For 4 people)

  • 1 kg waxy potatoes (also some purple ones, such as Blue Swede)
  • 300 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 bunch parsley or chives
  • 2 teaspoons caraway
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika powder
  • 3 tablespoons apple vinegar
  • Salt, pepper

Preparation:

Wash the potatoes and put them in a covered pot in a little bit of water for 15-20 mins. Drain the water and leave the potatoes to stand uncovered, letting the water evaporate. Then peel the potatoes and immediately cut into 0.5 cm slices. Place in a bowl. Peel the onions, dice finely and add to the potatoes. Pour the still warm water broth into the mixture. If the potato slices break don’t worry. Season well with vinegar, caraway, paprika powder, salt and pepper. Leave to stand for at least 30 mins. Season again and garnish with the roughly chopped herbs.

Anas’ potato dish

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 800 g waxy potatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of ground coriander
  • 2–3 peppers, a colourful mix
  • Plenty of olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

Preparation:

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1cm slices. Heat up the oil in a deep cooking pot and cook the potatoes until they are nearly done. With a ladle take the potatoes out of the oil and dry them on kitchen paper. Peel the garlic, chop finely and, with the help of a garlic press or a large kitchen knife press, them very finely. In another pot, put in a small glug of oil. Put the garlic and the coriander in the pot and slowly begin to fry them until you can smell the flavours. Then add the potato slices with a little bit of water, mix well and leave to stand uncovered.

In the meantime cut the washed peppers and sauté in a pan with a little oil until they are ready to eat. Serve together with the potatoes.

We hope you have fun using the recipes. Bon appetit!

Sophia Hoffmann is a vegan chef and cookbook author. Check out her Youtube page for delicious how-to videos. The photos in this post were taken by the incredible Danilo Sierra.