Chickpea sisters: making change through food

GMT 12:53 Tuesday ,19 May 2015

 Migrant Voice - Chickpea sisters: making change through food

Dalia and Mputa

Mputa’s Story

I arrived in the UK as a refugee nine years ago from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am a mother to three young children. I love to cook for them, but I also love to cook with the Chickpea Sisters because I get the opportunity to mix with people from different cultures, countries and backgrounds.

At first it was strange and difficult to cook other people’s recipes, but after a while it has become enjoyable, and I have become a better cook with diverse skills. It feels good to be part of a group that is providing a unique service by cooking food from all over the world.

When the Chickpea Sisters first started catering for events, one of the biggest challenges was getting used to cooking in different kitchen spaces and environments. Meeting new people was also daunting but it is a necessary part of our business. Over time we have become more confident and catering for events and meeting new people is enjoyable.

In the future I hope that the Chickpea Sisters will continue to grow and I would like to use the cooking skills that I have gained to work as a chef in a restaurant or café alongside my work with the Chickpea Sisters.

For anyone else who would like to start their own business I will give them the following advice: Make sure that you do something that you are passionate about and that inspires you.

The reason I have been able to do what I do is because I love cooking and trying new recipes. It is also important to learn from your mistakes, and to learn from the other people you work with. Finally, it is important that you have a direction a purpose when you start a business, as this will help you reach your goals.”


The Chickpea Sisters – by Dalia

The story of the Chickpea Sisters begins with a cooking club formed of many women from different backgrounds who shared the same interest in cooking.

It started as a weekly meeting to cook and share food from different countries and was enjoyable and beneficial for everyone in the group. After a year it evolved into a steadily growing business. This year we have had training in food hygiene and have written a business plan, things that enable us to run the business successfully. There have been some challenges as we have changed from a cooking group to a business, but working alongside your friends makes it fun.

We cook food for parties, meetings and events. It helps every one of us to earn some income and it benefits society. It has given all of us the chance to learn new recipes and skills, and has given me the chance to make lots of new friends and become a part of the local community. This world is full of different types of food, and the Chickpeas Sisters gather to cook our different types of food and to serve to people with love.

Here are two taster recipes from the upcoming Chickpea Sisters cookbook:


Baba Ganoush

2 aubergines

6 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp yoghurt

3 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

Juice of 1 lemon

A handful of mint, finely chopped

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

salt and pepper


Wrap the aubergines in foil and bake whole in the oven for an hour at 180 degrees for 1 hour.

  1. Take the aubergines out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Peel off the skins and put the soft flesh into a bowl. Stir it a little so that the aubergine breaks down.
  2. Mix in the tahini, yogurt, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, mint and pomegranate molasses. Taste and adjust seasoning. Eat immediately with warm flatbreads, or as a side with meat or vegetable dishes.


Potato Kubbeh

Kubbeh are a great snack that can be enjoyed on their own or as part of a meze platter. Their crispy shell gives way to a tasty spiced filling.


Serves 4

3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped

250g basmati rice

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cinnamon

A pinch of salt

1tbsp sunflower oil

5 onions peeled and finely diced

500g minced meat (lamb)

1tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp black pepper

1 handful of raisins

50g pine nuts

A small bunch of parsley


  1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, steam or boil the rice. When both the rice and the potatoes are cooked, pass the potatoes through a potato ricer and add to the cooked rice.
  2. Add chilli powder, cinnamon and salt to the rice and potato mixture. This will form the outer layer or ‘shell’ of the kubbeh.
  3. Next make the filling. In a frying pan, heat the sunflower oil and fry the onion until it is soft.
  4. Add the minced meat and the cumin, ginger, garlic, black pepper and fry until it is nice a brown (stirring occasionally). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When cooked, add the raisins and the pine nuts.  
  5. To make the kubbeh, roll the potato/rice mix into balls about 5cm in diameter.  Make a hole in the centre of each ball with your thumb (it should be quite large so you can fit quite a bit of stuffing into it).
  6. Fill the holes with the minced meat stuffing and press the edges to seal the kubbeh so that none of the stuffing falls out.
  7. Heat 4 tbsp sunflower oil in a pan and shallow fry the kubbeh until they are golden brown on the outside. Serve with a salad and a selection of dips.


Here’s what some satisfied customers said about the Chickpea Sisters….


Delicious food drawing on a variety of cuisines, and served charmingly. The Supper Club the Chickpea Sisters provided was excellent” Noel Hunwick, Supper Club Host

We really enjoyed the informal atmosphere at the supper club, meeting new people and sharing delicious, flavoursome food”

Hanya Chlala, Supper Club Guest

"The Chickpea Sisters were able to cater for our large event and provide everything we wanted. They were really friendly and flexible to fit around us and the food was absolutely fantastic. We've already recommended them to other groups to use in the future and we hope to use them next year" Dan Baron, The Spark

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