Manaqeesh Laham

 

I made these for a casual dinner most recently as Christopher was working away and Otis, mama and I wanted something we could eat while watching a film.  As soon as Otis saw them he started squealing ‘pitzy! pitzy!’, and I suppose they are a bit like Pizzas; Palestinian pizzas.  Christopher even took some left-overs to work for lunch a few days later, so they are very versatile.

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Hab wa Halluom Pastries

Aladdin and Jasmine, lime and mint, Arafat and the Khuffiah are just a few examples of perfect marriages to come out of the Middle East, but none more perfect that nigella seeds and white cheese.  This is such a perfect combination that I like to serve it for as many people as possible, especially as most people here in the UK haven’t experienced this perfect union.

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Warak Dawali

Its October.  That means just one thing in Palestine:  the olive harvest!  This is a critical time of year for the Palestinian economy, where the harvesting of olives and pruning of trees will provide, oil, olives, pulp and wood for many businesses- food producers, soap makers and wood carvers.  It’s also when the Palestinian solidarity movement really comes alive with hundreds of people from across the world going to Palestine support rural communities and farmers harvest their olives and plant new trees.  The people support with their labour and their protective presence to protect Palestinians form settlers and the Israeli army.  It’s also the last harvest of grapes and grape-leaves which are absolutely critical in any Palestinian Kitchen.

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Heavy-Hearted Hummus

My whole life is Palestine.  My education, the jobs I have striven for, my career and my life has always been about Palestine.  But my personal time, once I clock off, I have not always found it easy to engage formally.  That is because I find it too hard, too tiring and too exposing.  It’s hard to be detached enough from the issue to keep going when you are part of the issue.  I have found it hard to find my place in the past, you know, growing up.  Too afraid to bore everyone with the Palestine issue, while knowing it’s also always expected of me to talk about it.

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Zataar Fatayir

These Zataar Fatayir are the perfect breakfast.  They are perfect silken layers of soft bread, sweet onions and flavourful zataar.  Large enough to really fill you up for the day and convenient enough to chomp on while reading the news and sipping your sweet minty tea.

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I’ras Zataar

‘Yahktee!’ Otis yells for the fourth time at the top of his voice.  He has taken to calling my Mama  Yakhtee (Arabic colloquial for ‘my sister’) after he heard her using the term for me one day at the supermarket.  It always makes us giggle.  It also makes me smile with pride as out of about 50 words he can now say, it is one of only about five Arabic words he says.  I always just took it for granted that my children would be bi-lingual like I am, but it’s actually harder than I thought to keep the Arabic dominant here in Buckinghamshire.  It’s just another way in which my heritage seems to be slipping away from me.  Being away from Palestine, I feel like the main thing I can hand down to my son is our stories, our food and our language.   It feels so important to me.

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Mid-week Musakhan

When we moved to the UK in the late 1990s, finding our ‘own food’ was so hard.  You couldn’t find staples like halloumi, hummus, zataar, sumac, fresh herbs, vine leaves etc, certainly not in central Hertfordshire where we were living.  We used to stockpile when we were back in the middle east, go without or make/grow our own.  These days it’s much easier to find what we need and like in the regular supermarkets, however we still have to make and grow some things that we need.

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Shorabat Addas

This lentil soup is as simple as it is delicious.  It is a warming weekend treat after an autumnal walk and it is a simple supper when your fridge is bare.  It’s another classic peasant food which is still on every Palestinian restaurant menu you visit as it’s so popular.  Like much of Palestinian food, it’s very natural, healthy and vegan

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