Ramadan recipe: Fateem's kibbe shines, even in a Syrian IDP camp

She's been displaced for five years with her husband and 14 children, but Fateem still manages to prepare delicious food for her family.

A slotted spook lifts out a scoop of kibbes from the hot oil
Fateem lifts sizzling kibbes out of hot oil [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]
Fateem lifts sizzling kibbes out of hot oil [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

For Ramadan, Fork the System brings you stories of family, connection, and the dishes that made the month special for our guest chefs.

For the past five years, Fateem Khaled Errahmoon and her large family have lived in a camp for displaced people near Maarat Misrin, a small city in northwestern Syria's Idlib province.

They fled here after being forced from their home in Tah, a town in southern Idlib, during Syria's long-running war.

With their finances tight, the family is still living in a weather-beaten tent.

But Fateem, a 45-year-old mother of 14, is no stranger to hard work. She is constantly moving around their living space, making sure things are as shipshape as possible.

She misses life in Tah, which she remembers fondly as a time when she and her husband were younger, living with relatives and surrounded by their love.

Every meal was a big family dinner back then, she recalls, and Ramadan was an especially important time for everyone to come together.

Today's iftar, the meal at sunset when Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan, will be no different.

Fateem's hands crimp the edges of a sambousik with a fork
Fateem has no tables, counters, appliances or even a stove to cook on [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

"I went grocery shopping and bought minced meat, onions, bulgur wheat and flour so I could make kibbe, sambousak and shish barak - dishes loved by every member of my family," she says with a broad smile.

"Back home in Tah, those three were a staple of our home-cooked Ramadan feasts," she says as she bustles around, preparing to cook.

There are no tables in Fateem's cooking space, nor are there counters, mixers, vent hoods or even a stove. Everything is prepared on the floor, using the limited utensils and platters she has.

To cook, she has a wood-burning stove fashioned out of an old barrel. She feeds it with kindling and wood gathered around the camp. And to judge whether a pot is hot enough to cook in, she uses her experienced eye and a steady hand held above it.

Source: Al Jazeera