Tabbouleh

Growing up, there wasn’t a BBQ, Party or event that mama was cooking for where she didn’t serve Tabbouleh. this is as traditional and authentic as it gets. In the 35 years I have been eating it, it hasn’t changed a because its just perfect… and so reassuring.

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BBQ Herby, Garlicky vegetables

This is our alternative to vegetable kebabs. We cook the vegetables on skewers as you may expect but once they are all smoky and soft and cooked we push them off the skewers and coat in a delicious herby and garlicky dressing that is just perfect: fresh, light and delicious. these accompany meat and fish on the BBQ perfectly.

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Garlicky green bean and rice salad

I hate to write this, but I always used to struggle visiting with distant relatives- apart from the wonderful maza always laid out. I was always so shy and felt so awkward having to be on best behavior, listening to endless stories about people I didn’t know and unable to keep track of how we were all related; Mama’s cousins, and cousins cousins and uncles etc. all the generations mixed in age but the custom to marry young and having seemingly endless children. along with the endless jokes and laughter was the inevitable anger and theorizing about the political situation in Palestine, Mama’s family are all well educated and politically active and so everyone has to say their bit- always followed by a pitiful silence of regret, fear and sadness that even now fills me with dread.

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Ba’dounsia

I remember when I first started traveling back and forth to Palestine a few times a year with work, my team and I used to stay in a lovely little hotel a short walk form the city centre. the lovely thing about being where we were is that we found all the little simple places that people who really know Ramallah would go to. one of my favourite of those places was a tiny shawarma shop where you had point through the glass counter – as it was pointless trying to speak more loudly than the Arabic dance music playing-at everything you wanted to add to your shawarma wrap while the big man in his vest, cigarette perched between his lips, would overfill your sandwich for you all while shouting into the phone nestled between his shoulder and cheek with a large fan pointed directly at him trying to cool his perspiring body. He was always especially generous with the Ba’dounsia which suited me just fine. I loved his Shawarma. And making this sauce- which is essential for Kofta, kebab, cauliflower fritters, courgette fritters and falafel- takes me right back.

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Salty, minty tomatoes

Is this a recipe?  Maybe not.  Maybe it’s a serving suggestion.  I am sharing it with you because we just eat it so much.  When I was expecting my first son, I ate mosty salty tomatoes- it was my number one craving.  This is great shoved into pillowy pita bread with falafel or fried vegetables.  Also serve alongside meats and fish- especially on the BBQ.

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Dill Yoghurt

When I make this yoghurt I am instantly transported back to markets in Palestine where the heady mix of pungent tomatoes, squashed cucumbers underfoot and earthy smells of veg about to reach past its best is spiked with perfectly fresh a breezy smells of mint and dill.  I know you may not think that the smell of rotting tomato and fresh dill is a very pleasant one, but when it reminds you of your childhood, of sunshine and of an existence before you knew about the Nakba, the occupation and the injustice it is perfect. 

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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.

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Summer Muttabal

Look, I actually think that regular muttabal is perfect in the summer. I just want to make that clear. However, this version is utterly perfect in the summer with a BBQ and treated like a salad more than a dip. Spoon heaps of it onto your plate to eat with your BBQ kofta, grilled fish and garlicky BBQ vegetables and it is perfect. while still smoky, its somehow brighter and fresher than our usual- and incredibly popular- muttabal.

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