Comfort Food Series: Shawarma

A Levantine dish whose name originates from the Turkish verb ‘çevirme‘, to spin/turn, with a Turkish heritage, ‘Shawarma’ is a classic comfort food which can also be made at home. Serves over pita, rice or salad, shawarma is must-try for this weekend!

Ingredient for the chicken :

  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Cooking spray
  • One large onion, thinly sliced

Ingredients for the yogurt sauce:

  • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • Salt
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

For serving:

  • Pitas, warmed
  • Chopped romaine 
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced

Follow this recipe & don’t forget to let us know how it turned out! Sahtein!

Image source:

Conversational Practice & Language Learning

“Learning a language is intimidating. It is a long process with no shortage of complications, even without considering verbal communication. However, just like anything else, the more a student practices speaking, the more comfortable it becomes…”

According to the article by the University of Texas student Maggie Lazaroski, authentic conversational practice allows learners to use language in a way that is meaningful to them & accelerate their learning process.

And that’s exactly why NaTakallam was created! In fact, NaTakallam works with dozens of US universities to bring conversational practice to students while supporting displaced persons.

Find out more about our school programs here to immerse yourself & your class in a language:


Travel Tuesday: Angel Falls, Venezuela

Located in Bolívar, Venezuela, Angel Falls or “waterfall of the deepest place” in the indigenous Pemon language, is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall.

Angel Falls, or Salto Ángel is considered one of the most important natural sites of Latin America. It is named after the American aviator, Jimmy Angel who discovered the site when he landed in the region in 1937.



Comfort Food Series: Afghan Bolani

Crispy on the outside, soft & flavor-packed in the inside, spice up your weekend with some Afghan Bolanis!

A must-try comfort snack with many different fillings, flat-bread bolanis can be as mild or spicy as you like — perfect as a snack, appetizer or side dish. Bon appétit, or as you say it in Persian (Dari), noosh-e-jaan!

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (580g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I use canola)
  • 1 1/4 cups water (300g)

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes (680g)
  • 2 cups, packed sliced green onion (140g)
  • 2 cups, packed cilantro (60g)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper (60g) or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Additional oil for shallow frying (e.g. canola)

For a step-by-step recipe with visuals, we recommend this easy-to-follow recipe.

P.S. Don’t forget to serve with a refreshing yogurt-herb dip!


Travel Tuesday: Monaco

Surrounded by France on three sides & the Mediterranean Sea on the other, Monaco is the second smallest country with a population of under 40,000.

Despite being so small, Monaco holds and combines the lavish flavors and lifestyles of the French and Mediterranean, which results in a beautiful canvas of the country (one that you can walk across the width of in 56 minutes!)

Monaco is the land of Francophones. As the official language of Monaco, don’t forget to polish your French skills with our conversation partners!

P.S. Before you get your tanning oil ready, be aware that there’s no airport in Monaco! Most travel into Monaco through train, helicopter, or yacht. The nearest airport is Cote d’Azur Airport in France.



Comfort Food Series: Colorado Enchiladas

Spicy, rich & filling, Colorado Enchiladas are the ultimate comfort food. Perfect for a crisp autumn day, try out this recipe and invite your friends for a colorful & flavorsome feast!


  • 2 Ancho dried chiles
  • 4 New Mexican dried chiles
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • thin piece of dark chocolate
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 8-10 corn tortillas
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • Mexican Crema (optional)
  • Cotija cheese (optional)

For a step-by-step recipe with photos, try out this recipe here!

¡Buen provecho!

PS: Did you know that “colorado” means red-colored in #Spanish?



Listen to Indigenous Languages on Google Earth

Ever wondered how people greet one another in Cherokee? Or how a lullaby sounds like in the Bamum language of Cameroon? Find out with Google Earth’s fun new feature here!

“Many of the world’s 7,000 languages are in danger of disappearing; according to the United Nations 2,680 Indigenous languages are at risk.”

Google Earth is tackling this problem by using technology. Thousands of indigenous speakers have had their native tongues recorded and is now widely available to listen to thanks to Google. To date, the efforts have accumulated up to 55 endangered languages.

“No culture has a monopoly on human genius, and we never know where the next brilliant idea may come from,” David Harrison says, chair of the linguistics department at Swarthmore College. “We lose ancient knowledge if we lose languages.”

It is important to raise awareness of language preservation. When we stop practicing languages, we lose more than just words. We lose culture. We lose values. We lose identity.


Travel Tuesday: Maharloo Lake, Iran

We know what you’re thinking, but this image is not photoshopped! Maharloo Lake of Iran is a major tourist attraction for its breathtaking pink & red color during summertime- courtesy of algae & minerals!

Approximately one hour from the city of Shiraz, the home to distinguished Persian poet Hafez, Maharloo Lake is a great location for a picnic & a stroll!

Before heading to see this natural beauty with your own eyes, why not revisit your Persian with one of NaTakallam’s conversation partners?

Source & Image:

Saturday Street Art: Asmahan in Beirut

A cultural icon & legendary 1930s diva, Asmahan would enchant spectators with her captivating vocals. With Levant roots, Asmahan often sang in Modern Standard Arabic & colloquial Egyptian Arabic — both which NaTakallam can help you practice! 😉

Photo courtesy of our very own Mariam, during the Lebanon staff retreat recently!