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Meet the Filipina behind popular ‘khanfaroosh’ cake in RAK eatery

by | Feature

Unknown to many, a Filipina helped popularized the famous khanfaroosh, an Emirati saffron cake, that is sold in an eatery in Ras Al Khaimah called Asayel King Juices.

In an article written by Anna Zacharias of the The National, featured the life of Charlene Alfonzo, who started as a domestic helper in the UAE 1993.

With her ambition to make ends meet for her mother and six siblings in Mindanao, the Filipina admitted in the report that her agency changed her aged to pass immigration requirements then.

She also recounted tales of abuse as a domestic helper, but that did not stop her to give up her hope that one day she would be able to give her family a comfortable life.

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Upon arrival, she started working for a family who lived in Al Rams, Ras Al Khaimah. She said that her first employers treated her well.

However, she did not have the same luck when she changed employers. Alfonzo said that she has experienced some difficulties with them, urging her to flee.

When she fled, she chanced upon her current employer who hired her to be the sales clerk of Asayel King Juices when it was just about to open 18 years ago.

Alfonzo recalled that the early beginnings of the business was tough. There were days when they would only make Dh50 in a day.

However, they decided not to give up just yet. They moved their store’s location to the Old RAK Corniche and her sponsor started to teach her how to prepare several delicacies, such as luqaimat dumplings, thin regag and khameer bread, chebab pancakes, balaleet noodles and khanfaroosh cakes.

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Since then, Alfonzo perfected her recipes and started to sell Emirati snacks that made their eatery famous in the Old Corniche.

Thanks to the success that her khanfaroosh has brought her, four of her siblings and a cousin were able go to UAE as well.

She was also able to bring her mother to Saudi Arabia to do the Hajj, which is the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

But her own life battles continue. Her 2-year-old daughter suffers from omphalocele, a birth defect due to a hole in the navel area, according to Medicine Plus.

Alfonzo said her daughter still does not have a birth certificate because the hospital will not issue one until her medical bills, which is worth Dh110,000, are all settled.

She advised Filipino workers to keep their faith in the midst of deepest struggles.

Disclaimer: This story originally appeared on The National.

Khanfaroosh Photo by Maha Al-Ansari on Flickr


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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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