Britain’s ‘Curry King’ shows Myanmar refugees way to nutritious food at UN event

30 December 2009

Britain’s renowned “Curry King” has been giving poor refugee women in Bangladesh lessons on concocting nutritious dishes using United Nations food rations along with locally grown fruit and vegetables.

“I believe that the tips and stories that I have shared will give women leaders the confidence to develop positive health behaviours in their homes and community,” star chef Tommy Miah said, thanking the UN World Food Programme (WFP) for organizing the event at Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, eastern Bangladesh, home to some 11,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled neighbouring Myanmar.

Mr. Miah, a British celebrity chef of Bangladeshi origin, involved women community leaders in the demonstration as he cooked mushroom fried rice, pumpkin and lentil soup, vegetable pakora, garlic mushrooms, spinach with potatoes and banana fritters – a dessert consisting of banana, sweet syrup and WFP’s fortified Wheat Soya Blend (WSB) formula.

Looking at the tiny kitchens available to refugee women, he passed on tips on how to cook nutritious food with locally available cheap ingredients, while WFP field monitor Masing Newar explained the types of vitamins and minerals found in the foods and educated them on the causes and consequences of under-nutrition.

“I have learnt that to retain the nutrition content of vegetables it’s better not to wash them after cutting [as I currently do] but they should be washed beforehand,” said Jahura, a 45-year-old mother with eight family members to cook for.

Sobmeraj, a 35-year-old mother with seven family members to provide for, said she had never thought before that such a nutritious and tasty meal could be prepared with such limited and cheap items. “I realized that cleanliness and good presentation are important in enjoying our meals, and I believe they're good for our health as well,” she added.

WFP runs its programmes in the two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in conjunction with a number of UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners.

“Today’s experiences and demonstrations, if practised widely in the camp, can make needed changes at the community level, without disturbing traditions,” said Selina Akhter, Nutrition worker of Action Contre la Faim (ACF), a NGO providing a package of nutrition services including assisting mothers of undernourished children to grow vegetables in their homes.

 

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