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Food and Recipes

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> Agriculture and Food Production:
> Typical Palestinian Dishes
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> Christmas in Palestine: the food
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> CAROB (KHARROUB): St John's bread
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Typical Palestinian Dishes
   
submitted by Turathuna Bethlehem University
18.10.2006

Mansaf and Kiddreh, without any celebration does not deserve mention, are de rigueur at every traditional wedding, funeral, baptism, and circumcision. Mansaf, a dish with lamb, rice, and laban jmeed, comes originally from Trans- Jordan but was adopted wholeheartedly by the Palestinians as a dish for special occasions, most particularly in the Hebron area and the Negev. It is traditionally served in a large common plate, without the use of western tableware. Kidreh, another dish typical of the Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jerusalem areas as well as the Gaza Strip, is also based on rice and meat, with minor regional variations, particularly in the use of spices.

Mahashi dishes are popular all over Palestine and have the advantage of being prepared the day before. The preparation of stuffed vegetables: eggplants, zucchini, baby pumpkins, potatoes, carrots and cucumbers, is a delicate operation requiring great dexterity and infinite patience. Coring vegetables requires a special tool that one can bye for a pittance from the local souks. It can also be bought in Middle eastern food shops or in the Arab quarters of big cities. Mahashi also includes the stuffing of vines leaves, cabbage leaves, and chard into small cigarette size portions, an elaborate and time consuming job, unless the family's large enough to have many women who can chip in.

Fatteh, another popular dish often based on rice, derives its name from the cut up bread which, soaked in sauce, is a basic component of the dish. Fatteh can be cooked with meat, chicken or fish and the added rice and sauce are prepared with their broth. Originally a peasant dish, it is convenient for recycling left-over bread.

Stews are basic fare for every day family cooking and rare always served with vermicelli or plain rice. They are popular because they provide a wide range of nutrients from the meat, the vegetables, and the rice, and supply the extra liquid so essential in a climate where dry weather is the norm for most of the year. They also have the advantage of being economical, as a relatively small amount of meat can go a long way.

Mussakhan, an all-time favorite among Palestinians, originates in Tulkarem and Jenin. A succulent dish consisting of grilled chicken served on bread smothered with a mixture of onions and sumac and cooked in plenty of olive oil, it competes with mansaf and kiddreh as the representative dish of the Palestinians. The ideal bread for this dish is the local tabun bread. The tabun is the famous clay oven that was a centerpiece in every garden or backyard. When this bread is not available, kmaj bread is thick enough to carry the stuffing.

Further north, in Acre, Haifa, Nazareth, and the Triangle, the differences that we encounter in the cooking styles between the rural and the urban areas are as sharp as those in the rest of Palestine. One marked regional difference is that rice, though a staple in these parts too, is a less important ingredients in ceremonial dishes. While oriental rice, a mixture of rice with chopped meat and nuts, flavored with an assortment of spices accompanied by meat or chicken, is quite a favorite, it is variety of meatball and potato dishes that are ubiquitous at special occasions. Kubbeh, a mixture of meat and burghul ground to a paste and shaped into oblong balls and stuffed with spicy meat and onions is often served at social gatherings to officially put an end to a period of mourning.

Source: Palestine A Guide by Mariam Shahin.

Source: Palestine A Guide by Mariam Shahin.

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