Morning Sun
  • International students serve native dishes

  • As Pittsburg State students picked up lunch in Gorilla Crossing, many sampled the Saudi food available for International Education Week.

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  • As Pittsburg State students picked up lunch in Gorilla Crossing, many sampled the Saudi food available for International Education Week.
    That food was not only Saudi tasting, it was Saudi-made with Saudi spices.
    International students are helping Sudexho, the campus food services operator, prepare meals for students as they pass through.
    Halimah Hathah and Muna Alyusef, human resources students, came to Gorilla Crossing at 8 a.m. to prepare their traditional Saudi dish of kapsa.
    Kapsa is a chicken and rice mixture with various spices. Some of those spices, they said, came from trips home.
    “Each time we go visit home, we bring back spices,” Hathah said.
    Monday, Paraguayan students made empanadas with chipa guazu. Indian students made pav bhaji on Tuesday. Hathah and Alyusef made kapsa, a Saudi dish on Wednesday, while Malaysian students are scheduled to make a curry chicken on Thursday. Russian students will end the week with crab salad and pancakes.
    That is all a preparation, in a way, for Tastes and Sounds of Nations on Friday night at 7 p.m. in McCray Hall. The event will bring students together for a free night of dancing, foods and music.
    Carol West, Sodexho retail manager, said that some of the dishes include spices she did not recognize, like screwpine leaves for the curry chicken dish.
    “I’ve never heard of that,” West said. “No one I’ve talked to has ever heard of that.”
    West also said that some of the foods had to be toned down a bit for American taste buds.
    “The Russian students wanted to make curds with their pancakes and crab salad,” West said. “To make the curds, they had to set milk out for four to five days. We opted not to do that. It’s a little too far out there for us.”
    This is not the first year students have participated in generating food for Sodexho. West said the meals are always a big hit.
    “We ran out of food on Monday, and we got real close to that on Tuesday,” West said. “A few people can’t handle some of the spices, but there are other choices.”
    Hathah is the event organizer for the International Student Association. She said she jumped at the opportunity to show her country’s food.
    “Our food is different than American food,” Hathah said. “We have a different way of cooking the rice. We have a different way of cooking the chicken. It just tastes different.”
    To make the kapsa, the two students made a chicken made with several spices and flavors. The rice in the dish is a mixture of rice, rice seasoning packets from Saudi Arabia, whole cloves and whole Jalapenos.
    Page 2 of 2 - Hathah said the whole Jalapenos are to add aroma and a bit of flavor, but not the spice found in other countries.
    On top of the rice would go fried onions mixed with pine nuts, almonds and raisins. The final layer would be the spiced chicken. Other spices involved in the dish include parsley, zaffer powder (a powdered saffron) and cardamom.
    “There are many kinds of kapsa. This is just one way of doing it. This is the white rice way,” Hathah said. “Another kind of kapsa uses a tomato sauce. So many of my American friends like it.”
    Alyusef is from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, while Hathah is from Jeddah, the “second capital” of Saudi Arabia. The two began work at 8 a.m. and worked through 2 p.m. in order to make 80 servings of kapsa.
    “Most of the time when we make foreign food, we’ll eat Chinese food, but it’s very Americanized,” West said. “They brought in some ingredients that I can’t purchase anywhere around here.”
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.

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