In Jerusalem, street corners are bustling with street sellers who have wooden carts piled high with Ka’ak. You can stop by or call out of your car for the Ka’ak, baked eggs, falafel and tiny parcels made of old Arabic newspapers willed with salt or za’atar. they call out that they have fresh ka’ak and are usually sold out before the morning is done. It makes a pretty perfect breakfast. In Palestine, people get to work extremely early in the morning and then stop for breakfast with their colleagues in the office kitchen at about 9am and its oven ka’ak with a selection of cheese, vegetables, yoghurt, hummus and falafel enjoyed with hot sweet minty tea.Read More
Chili Ful with Tahini Yoghurt
This dish always reminds me of going to Gaza. We used to stop for lunch near the beach at Khan Younis in between visiting communities and projects. I always let my friend Azzam order for me as he is a real foodie and its great to eat to someone else’s taste every so often. He always used to order a minty, yoghurty, hummusy dish which was served warm and had an unreal amount of spice on it- a lot of Gazan food is very spicy.Read More
People mock me when I call these Palestinian chips. As if putting the word Palestinian in front of them make them somehow different, or gives even the humble chip a Palestinian origin like we seem to be able to do with almost everything else! But honestly, they are different. Not just the shape, which is actually absolutely essential to their identity- just ask Mama!- but also the amount of salt and PEPPER you put on them. you must actually be able to taste strong pepper and it makes them delicious. You will find these in every Falafel place in Palestine and of course in my house.Read More
I know that we are all supposed to love and admire vegetarians and vegans for their sacrifices for the planet and all but honestly, I still haven’t fully forgiven them for ruining the falafel. In the 1990s and 2000s, all these trendy vegetarian restaurants popped up serving dry and crusty BAKED falafel. I mean, honestly. Whenever someone tells me that they don’t like falafel, I simply assume they have only tried this type and so don’t take them too seriously.
Let me tell you about a small standing only restaurant in Bethlehem called Afteem, just down a small alley from the hot and busy Manger Square where a giant gas fired wok of oil is perched on the pavement frying thousands of falafel a day which are then-still warm-pressed into fluffy pitta breads, nestled amongst fresh and crunchy chopped vegetables and pickles, and drenched in Badounsia (a punchy tahini and parsley sauce).Read More
Meaty, Nutty Hummus
It’s actually hard to know how to improve upon Hummus. However, like with everything in Palestine, if you add spiced meat and nuts something ordinary becomes sublime. If hummus is for every day, then this recipe is for special occasions- a holiday brunch with the family, or festive nibbles with friends.
Labaneh reminds me of warm and sunny mornings with extended family, eating a few labaneh balls for breakfast with zataar and olive oil, all mopped up with soft warm pita bread and washed down with sweet mint tea. I hope you have tried my labaneh balls, which is a great way to preserve labaneh and give them great flavour.
‘Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you’ my mother would say encouraging me to repeat after her. She would do this if I exhibited any self-doubt or when I felt excluded by my brothers or my classmates. It’s not surprising that she would insist on me being confident and self-assured when she herself had to be, especially as she had to go against the grain so often in her life to do what she wanted to do.
Mama’s Feta, Garlic and Tomato Dip
This stuff is divine. Whether used to dip kettle chips, warm pita, cucumber sticks into or poured over rice this feta dip is absolutely delicious and I can’t help but eat it all when mama makes it. And its PINK!
Vegetarian Fattet Beitinjan
In Palestine you can get fattet anything. It refers to the pieces of bread that have been torn into pieces at the bottom of this dish. For me this is a lovely homely dish and a wonderful celebration of my favourite vegetable, the aubergine! It reminds me of a time most Palestinians only know through the oral tradition of story-telling of dancing and olive picking and camping out under the stars and pickling summer veg.Read More