The Foodie Kit: Buy from Palestinian Artisans

As many of you know I have spent much of the last 10 years supporting Palestinian livelihoods and economic development. Supporting Palestinian artisans is not just essential to the local economy in Palestine, but is also important to maintain traditional cultural crafts and skills. We at The Olive Tree Kitchen have teamed up with Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans to bring you some wonderful gifts for your kitchen.

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Beef Qidreh

my favourite restaurant in Ramallah is called ‘Darna’. it is an old house that has been turned into a lovely restaurant with huge trees inside it, traditional stone walls and a gorgeous fire place. there is the obligatory wall of celebrity and famous politician photographs, but that is forgivable. in the summer i like to sit on the lower level beneath the large leafy palms with the sunlight streaming through the large windows as i order maza, but in the winter, i like to sit on the raised level near the fire and order Qidreh. It is traditionally a slow cooked lamb dish with chickpeas and rice all cooked together in a tall terracotta pot over hot coals. when you order it, they bring the terracotta pot out to your table and turn it upside down as the meat, chickpeas and rice come tumbling out in a perfectly delicious mess for you to then spoon onto your plate. this is my version with beef, which i turn up a bit like a maqlooba.

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Summer Kufta

two things i just don’t understand about the English; 1) insisting on being in the garden and sitting in the midday sun in the boiling heat just to ‘make the most of it’ despite it being thoroughly uncomfortable and 2) not ‘fancying much’ to eat when its hot. Maybe this dish can convince you to eat some delicious kufta in the waning evening sun!

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Beef and Pepper Kofta Bake

the pepper is king in this recipe. You may be wondering how many kofta recipes Mama and I have up our sleeve. and the answer is a lot. and if you want the full Palestinian culinary experience you have to also learn to eat it at least once a week. which- believe me- isn’t a trial. in Palestine we turn everything into kofta: lamb, beef, chicken, and even fish! As well as the meat variation, there are variations to what vegetables are used and what it is cooked in- dry, tahini, sauce. This kofta is a beef and vegetable mixture baked with lots of vegetables in a sweet tomato sauce.

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Kofta bil Warak

When my husband and I moved into our house 5 years ago my mother took me out to her garden and using a blunt kitchen knife she pulled and chopped at a few wooded vines on her grape until a few came loose.  She told me to get them into the ground in my new garden before the earth turned cold.  It was mid-October so I was certain it would be too late, but she told me to sit on the earth in my garden and if it wasn’t so cold that I needed to get back up quickly then it was warm enough to plant.   This is an old trick that my mother swears her mother and grandmother both used.  Of course I didn’t sit on the floor, but I did stick the twigs in the ground without much thought or hope and to my surprise the following spring we had new green growth on them.  This year we have had a bumper crop of grape leaves and I am so incredibly happy!  We have been eating nothing but vine leaves so far this summer. 

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Dijaj Mahshi

‘I remember all the family coming over on Christmas eve and gathering around a small fire in the middle of the room, my uncles roasting apples, nuts and eggs on the open flames and my mother, grandmother and aunts telling us kids the story of the nativity and giving us chocolates’, mama beams as she recalls the Christmases of her childhood in the old city of Jerusalem in Palestine. ‘We didn’t have presents, just new clothes to wear for church and lots of delicious food; everything you could imagine and at the centre a glorious stuffed chicken filled with meat, spices, rice and nuts’

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