Monday July 15th, 2024
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Mabrooka Makes Gourmet Egyptian Food for Everyone

This Alexandrian restaurant utilises a new model for charity, one that could last the test of time.

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Mabrooka Makes Gourmet Egyptian Food for Everyone

To discuss food without acknowledging the privilege of access is a pointless exercise that is increasingly difficult to ignore. The belief that all humans should have the right to the joy, comfort, and necessity of food is universally shared, yet often feels unachievable. With most of the power surrounding food residing in the hands of a few major players who essentially run the industry, providing food for everyone is a challenging change to effect. But we can try.

In 2022, Yasmine Salama, the founder of Mabrooka and Sabeel Mabrooka, decided to play her role in feeding those who lacked the means to feed themselves. But, of course, this came with a challenge. “The initial plan was to create a kitchen that exclusively fed those in need, but that would rely heavily on the unsteady supply of charity,” says Salama. “To create a steady supply of food, I couldn’t rely on something so fickle.”

With the help of her brother, Salama began working on Mabrooka. “The point of Mabrooka was that it would be a regular restaurant whose profits supplied the charity kitchen. The uncertainty of the charity element disappeared; it functioned like any other restaurant.” When people came to Mabrooka, a portion of their fees went to providing food for the needy, and Mabrooka distributed this food every Friday.

While it does not rely on charity, Mabrooka still allows room for donations. Some people, when paying for their meal, choose to pay for an extra meal that is then factored into the distributions. Others simply pay for a number of meals for the same cause. Sometimes, people buy the meals and distribute them themselves, especially if they are targeting specific areas or individuals they want to ensure they receive high-quality, clean food. Regardless, just by eating the delicious homemade delicacies of Mabrooka, patrons contribute to feeding those in need.

A cornerstone of Mabrooka’s premise, and later, Sabeel, was that people in need should not be given mere scraps. We revel in the comfort a warm dish of homemade molokhia brings us—in fact, at times, a meal like that seems life-changing. Why can't they?

“At Mabrooka, we make authentic Egyptian food, with only the cleanest ingredients. The menu is split into essentially two sections: gourmet street food and homemade dishes.” The warm quality of Mabrooka’s essence makes it a beloved destination for Alexandrians craving the taste of homemade delicacies.

In February 2024, Mabrooka expanded into Sabeel Mabrooka, a second restaurant on the same street. Unlike its sister restaurant, Sabeel Mabrooka invites people into its abode for free meals every Friday. The second restaurant operated under the same philosophy as Mabrooka, utilising the week’s profits to provide free food for whoever walked in every Friday. “The experience of dining out in a restaurant is different from simply being handed food on the street. There’s something more homely, and simply more fun, about it that everyone should get to experience.”

As Mabrooka continues to grow, attracting more people for a quick lunch or a warm dinner, the more individuals the restaurant can help. With a sturdy fanbase, the restaurant is able to feed more and more people, eliciting powerful change in the fight against hunger in Alexandria.

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