Amsterdam, august 14, 2023. By: Carlijn den Boer

Meet Rada, she was part of the cast of the video we made in collaboration with Wolfstreet. Rada’s journey to the Netherlands in 2015 brought her not only to a new land but also to surprising changes in her life. When she came to the Netherlands, she was determined to blend into the Dutch culture and actively become a part of the local community. Her mission? To dive headfirst into the Dutch language and culture, nurturing genuine connections with the people around her.

Education played an important role in Rada’s integration process. She fully embraced her studies in the Netherlands and successfully completed her bachelor’s degree in English. Besides immersing herself in the Dutch language and embarking on her academic journey, Rada was also eager to explore other ways to connect with the Dutch population. She believed that the ultimate connector was food! According to her, sharing a meal brings people together like nothing else.

A significant aspect of Rada’s life in the Netherlands revolves around her passion for cooking. Through workshops and participation in newcomer meetings at mosques and churches, Rada shared her culinary heritage, introducing locals to the rich flavors and traditions of Syria. Not stopping there, Rada also took her culinary adventure online, creating a website to share her recipes. This digital platform encouraged an exchange of cultures that went beyond language and cuisine.

During the challenging times of the COVID pandemic, Rada’s passion for communication and connection extended beyond the confines of the classroom and workshops. She found herself exploring social media as a means to contribute actively to society in a different capacity. While obtaining a job as an English teacher during the pandemic brought about difficulties, she felt a calling for something new: an Instagram account called Syrian Foodie.

The Welcome app team got in touch with Rada while we were looking for cast members for the brand video. At that time, Rada wasn’t aware of the Welcome app, and used Facebook groups, networking, and newspapers to engage with the local society. She describes Welcome app as a “helpful shortcut” that could have connected her more efficiently with resources and like-minded individuals, that could have simplified her search for integration support.

Cooking on Instagram was more than just sharing recipes for Rada. It became a way to discover new opportunities and connect with people from diverse backgrounds. Being part of the Welcome app’s brand video cast highlighted Rada’s passion for meeting new people and hearing their unique stories. 

She would like to share the recipe she cooked during the shooting day of the video with all of us:

Rada’s Roz Bhaleeb (Rice Pudding)

Rice pudding is a beloved dessert found in various cultures. What distinguishes this version as Middle Eastern is the addition of orange-blossom water, a flavoring syrup obtained through the distillation of orange tree flowers, commonly used in Arabic/Turkish desserts. You can usually find it in Middle Eastern grocery stores.

  • 5 cups whole-fat milk (low-fat milk is not suitable for this recipe as it won’t achieve the desired creaminess)
  • 1/2 cup short-grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon orange-blossom water
  • Sugar (amount depends on your personal preference)

Rinse the rice and place it in a medium saucepan. Add the milk and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Let it simmer for about an hour until the rice is overcooked and the mixture thickens. Stir the mixture every five minutes to prevent it from sticking to the pan. If it sticks, avoid scratching it off the pan.

When the mixture thickens to a consistency similar to vanilla pudding, add sugar to your taste and stir until it dissolves. Turn off the heat and add the rose water. Let it cool for a while, then pour it into heat-resistant serving bowls.

Allow the pudding to cool completely before refrigerating it. Garnish with pistachios and serve it cold. Enjoy your Middle Eastern treat!