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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Mahshi Kousa bil Bandour

Growing up, Mahshi kousa was by far my favourite mahshi.  I think that warak inab and beitinjan might have slightly edged ahead now, but growing up that soft, sweet courgette flesh around delicious spiced rice and meat was undeniably my favourite.  Almost 3 years ago when Otis was about 7 months old, we went to visit my mother who had made up a huge pot of mahshi kousa for her first born grandchild. I thought he was way too young, but she put one in his hand and he went n to eat three whole courgettes!  Otis shares so many of my tastes so I shouldn’t be too surprised.  It won’t be long until we are giving Rupert his mahshi.

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Christmas Kubbe

Kubbe is Christmas.  Growing up, I always knew that Christmas was around the corner when my mother starter frying up these glorious crispy bulgar bites stuffed with spiced beef and nuts.  Mama would fry them up in the hundred during the autumn and freeze them in bags of 12 so that we could slowly work through them over advent, Christmas and New Year.    Each family has its own Christmas day traditions, and ours included eating these kubbe for breakfast around the tree with tea while we slowly opened all our presents.

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