I was tired from a day visiting farmers, but as I listened to my friend Samer enthusiastically talking about our work, I was slowly perking up. I was sat in Samer’s lovely house in Nablus eating the plentiful delicious dishes his wife had cooked for us with the soft chatter and banging from his three children in the next room. Samer’s passion for story-telling and the charming way he giggles as he talks was raising a smile on my face. ‘Seriously, Phoebe, you don’t understand. We literally saved the Palestinian Almond. You and me. We had a vision and we did it- hundreds of farmers thank us for that’ Samer is referring to programme we implemented with his extraordinary research to stop a pest from taking over and completely destroying all of Palestine’s almonds. The situation was so bad that almond farmers where ripping up their trees or abandoning them all together. I don’t know if he is right about our impact or my role in it, but I hope he is.
Samer and I are now working on olives together and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve.
While at this dinner with Samer’s family, I ate the most delicious fattet beitinjan and I immediately begged his wife for the recipe. It also contains almonds, which is a fitting tribute.
2 pita bread, cut into squares
1 aubergine, cubed
50 ml water
3 garlic cloves, miced
500ml greek yoghurt
2 tbs tomato puree
100g peeled almonds
250g minced meat
Parsley, finely chopped
Salt & pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Mix the salt, the minced garlic and yoghurt to a bowl and mix well before putting in the fridge for 1 hr.
Put olive oil in a frying pan and fry the almonds until golden then set aside
In the same oil then fry the aubergine and then set aside
Then in the same oil fry the bread and set aside
Fry the meat in the same oil until dry and set aside
Put the tomato puree and 50ml of water in saucepan with salt and pepper and mix together. Once its blended together add the fried aubergine and keep on the heat until its thick and all liquid has gone.
Just before serving time, assemble the dish in a casserole dish or pretty bowl. Assemble in layers, with the bread at the bottom, then the tomato and aubergine, then the garlic yoghurt, then the meat, then the almonds and parsley
Serve with absolutely anything or eat alone for lunch.
Thank you, Maha!