Refugees set up Harrogate district’s first Afghan pop-up restaurant
Last updated Sep 8, 2023
Composite image made up of photos of Nahid Hamidi, founder of The Afghan Kitchen, with photos of some of her food.
Nahid's food has become very popular with her British friends.

A pop-up-restaurant created by Afghan refugees will hold its launch event this month in Knaresborough. 

The Afghan Kitchen will offer food and drink for up to 60 diners at Gracious Street Methodist Church, with both meat and vegetarian menus available. 

The initiative is the brainchild of Nahid Hamidi, who fled Afghanistan in August 2021 when the Taliban seized control of country. Her husband, Jamil, was an interpreter for the British Army – and was even injured in the line of duty – but his role with British armed forces made him and his family an immediate target, so even though they had visas to travel to the UK and were packed and ready to go, they were forced to leave with nothing in an American cargo plane. 

University educated, Nahid was the director of an international charity in the northern province, Badakhshan, and speaks English well. But after the family moved to Harrogate in November 2021, she quickly recognised how difficult it was for many of her fellow countrywomen who lacked the necessary English skills to find work. 

She told the Stray Ferret: 

“I worked for a charity in Afghanistan, and helping is like my hobby! I wanted to help my Afghan lady friends, because they really want to work, and cooking is one thing they really know how to do – we all learned to cook from our mothers. 

“I’m employing two of them so far, but eventually I hope to employ 20 or more. I want to run these events in Skipton, York, and right across Yorkshire.” 

Photo of diners at an Afghan lunch cooked by Nahid for the Refugee Council.

Diners at an Afghan lunch cooked by Nahid for the Refugee Council earlier this year.

The Afghan Kitchen is supported by Harrogate District of Sanctuary, which has been helping the Hamidis and other Afghan families since their arrival in the region. 

Nahid said:

“I really hope it all goes well. There will be Afghan food, Afghan music, and hopefully also an Afghan atmosphere – a real Afghan experience.

“I just want to get feedback as good as I received from the Refugee Council when I cooked lunch for 32 of them – they really liked my food. In Afghanistan, if someone visits and we can’t feed them, it just doesn’t feel right. But if we can, then we’re happy!”

Photo of diners at an Afghan lunch cooked by Nahid for the Refugee Council earlier this year.

Feedback from the Refugee Council lunch for 32 people was overwhelmingly positive.

The first Afghan Kitchen pop-up restaurant will be held on Saturday, September 23 from 7pm to 9.30pm. Tickets are running out fast, but a second event is planned for Harrogate, on Saturday, October 21 at Kairos Church, just off Cold Bath Road.

Two set menus are available: a meat menu at £20 and a vegetarian menu for £17. Both include a starter, main course, bread, salad and dessert. Gracious Street Methodist Church is not licensed, so no alcohol is permitted on the premises. 

Tickets for either of these events can be reserved by emailing [email protected].

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