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Palestinian hummus

Christiane Daboub Nasser: make hummus with love!

Christiane Dabdoub Nasser, is the author of Classic Palestinian Cuisine.

"'Nafas' is love. You do things with love. But it's also soul. But it means that you do it with love, yeah...with love. And the love of sharing, of course."

Sahha Aburahmeh of Bil'in Village and the Palestinian way to make hummus

Sahha Aburameh and her family live in the West Bank village of Bil'in. Each week after Friday prayers there is a protest against the Separation Wall that encroaches on Bil'in land. Tragically Sahha lost two of her children on separate occasions whilst they were protesting against the wall.

Lina Restaurant, the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem

Lina's, a bastion of Palestinian pride and cuisine in the Arab Christian Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem. Trevor says, "...the hummus is to die for, lightly spiced with garlic and a jalapeño pepper. Maybe the secret is in its making - the old fashioned way."

Raed Taha at Abu Shukri restaurant, Old City, Jerusalem inherited the restaurant, recipes and skill from his father

Ilan Pappe - the appropriation of hummus

Palestinian cuisine

Palestinian food is much like neighboring Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and even Egypt and has three regional cuisines - the Galilee, Gaza and the West Bank. Dishes travel from region to region, evolving and adapting.

Food is at the core of Palestinian society. Meals are always large enough for spontaneous invitations. Women are the heart of the Palestinian kitchen. Often three generations of women work together in the kitchen. This culture preserves a cuisine with very few cookbooks.

Palestinian food is spicy but mild. Gaza dishes are hotter thanks to Egyptian influences. Lamb is the main protein but they use more fish and vegetables along the coast. In the north they love their yoghurt-based sauces (usually reconstituted from a dried form of yoghurt called kishk or jameed), while those in the center and south prefer tomato-based sauces.

PomegranatesPomegranates for sale in the Old City, Jerusalem

Palestinian breakfast regulars are hummus, eggs, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers, and labneh (strained and thickened yoghurt drizzled with olive oil), jams and fūl mudammas (stewed fava beans, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic) - the dishes accompanied by khubz an Arabic bread and hot tea. Busy Palestinians grab a manakish from street vendors. Jerusalem is famous for its ka'ak bi simsim, a ring shaped bread studded with sesame seeds, and often sold with a satchet of za'tar and a hard-boiled egg.

Lunch is the main meal of the day, taken around two in the afternoon. Many offices shut down so employees can eat at home with their families. This is followed by a nap or hours of relaxation and talk. Professionals and other working people may return to offices in the late afternoon/early evening, and stay at work until 7pm or later.

Dinner is the lightest and simplest meal of the day, anywhere from 8-10 pm. Omelets, either plain, or with fresh chopped herbs and spices, salads, fatayer, and other light snacks... and more hummus!

Palestinian Cake seller in the Old City, JerusalemPalestinian Cake seller in the Old City, Jerusalem


Galilee food is much like Lebanese cuisine. Bulgur, spices and meat, are known as kibbeh (or kubbi) by Arabs. Kubbi bi-siniyee, a favorite lunch, is minced lamb or beef with pepper and spices wrapped in a baked bulgur crust. Kubbi neyee is raw meat mixed with bulgur and spices, eaten as a side dish with pita or markook bread. Manakish is like pizza, but topped with a number of mixtures such as homemade cheese and olive oil, oregano with sesame and oil, and onions with spices and hot sauce. Lahm bi ajeen (literally translated: meat with dough) or "sfiha" is also similar to manakish.

On special occasions in Galilee feasts feature Roasted Lamb, rice with spices, and garnished with parsley and toasted nuts. Shish kebab or lahme mashwi and shish taouk are grilled meats on skewers eaten after a suite of appetizers known as the maza. Maza includes hummus, baba ghannouj, tabouli, lebeneh, machshi (stuffed vegetables), grape leaves (stuffed with meat or rice and vegetables), small kibbeh, local cheeses, olives and pickles, and many more.

West Bank

West Bank meals are heavy and involve rice, flatbreads and roasted meats. Musakhan is a roasted chicken on taboon bread topped with fried sweet onions, sumac, allspice and pine nuts. Maqluba is an upside-down rice and baked eggplant casserole with cooked cauliflowers, carrots and chicken or lamb and dates back to the 13th century. Mansaf, mostly cooked on holidays, weddings or any large gathering, is lamb on top of a taboon bread smothered with yellow rice. Jameed, is poured on top and it's all garnished with pine nuts and almonds. Mansaf(the national dish of Jordan) is eaten using the right hand as a utensil and during a feast the tradition is to tear pieces of meat and hand them to the person next to you.

The Hebron market, Occupied West BankThe Hebron market, Occupied West Bank

In the Hebron area, families harvest grapes for raisins, jams and a molasses known as dibs. Bethlehem is known for apricots and apricot jam. Tulkarm is famed for olives and oil. Nablus, in the northern West Bank, is one the few Palestinian cities that sustained elite classes, fostering the development of "high cuisine".

Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip sits on the Mediterranean and fish are a major ingredient. Culinary influences are strongly affected by traditional Egyptian cooking - chili peppers, dill seeds and garlic used a lot. Because of Gaza's isolation its cusine is less known in other Palestinian and Levantine Arab areas.

Fish is grilled or fried and stuffed with cilantro, garlic, red peppers and cumin and marinated in a mix of coriander, red peppers, cumin, and chopped lemons. Hot peppers, garlic and chard flavor many of their seafood meals. Zibdieh, a clay pot dish, consists of shrimp baked in a stew of olive oil, garlic, hot peppers, and peeled tomatoes. Crabs are cooked and stuffed with a red hot pepper paste called shatta.

Sumaghiyyeh, is water-soaked ground sumac mixed with tahina, and added to sliced chard and pieces of stewed beef and garbanzo beans. It is flavored with dill seeds, garlic and hot peppers and eaten cool with khubz. Rummaniyya is unripened pomegranate seeds, eggplant, tahina, garlic, hot peppers and lentils. Fukharit adas is a slow-cooked lentil stew flavored with red pepper flakes, crushed dill seeds, garlic, and cumin made during winter and early spring.

Qidra is a rice dish cooked with pieces of meat, often using lamb, whole garlic cloves, garbanzo beans, cardamom pods, and various other spices. Fatteh ghazzawiyyeh is plain rice cooked in meat or chicken broth and flavored with mild spices including cinnamon. The rice is layered over a thin markook bread known as farasheeh, smothered in ghee and topped with stuffed chicken or lamb. The meal is eaten with green peppers and lemon sauce.

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