What is a typical meal in Palestine

Palestine: Delicacies and recipes from the Levant cuisine

Crispy flatbread with warm hummus, spicy falafel, fresh tabbouleh: small, diverse dishes give our eating culture a completely new direction: casual, healthy, aromatic and cosmopolitan. The cuisine of Palestine invites you on a culinary journey of discovery. You can find out what is behind it here.

What Levante cuisine is and why you should know it

The Levante cuisine has meanwhile also conquered the European restaurant world and food culture. It's about a variety of small dishes that replace the classic menu. Their roots are in Arabic cuisine. Her new culinary directions come from the Levant - from Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

The Levante refers to both the cuisine, i.e. the culinary orientation, and the historical geographical name for the countries on the eastern Mediterranean (formerly known as the "Orient"). The Levante does not have a systematic sequence of dishes like the course menu. Rather, it's about putting everything on the table at the same time - and sharing it with others: Mezze is the keyword for this. Falafel, Shakshuka, tabbouleh, hummus or freekeh are classic Levante dishes that focus on enjoyment and relaxed togetherness.

In addition, the Levante cuisine is not only delicious, but also healthy. Numerous vegetarian products land on the table in small bowls that are wonderfully seasoned with an oriental flavor - with sumac, za’aatar and harissa, for example. These spice mixes are often the basis of many dishes and cannot be ignored in Levant cuisine.

A Palestinian on the trail of his culinary origins

Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley show how delicious these oriental dishes taste in their Palestinian cookbook Palestine. Chef and cookbook author Sami - born in Palestine - invites you with this culinary love letter to look deeper into the soul of the Orient and Levante cuisine - with impressive photos, portraits of local people and authentic dishes.

Its cuisine is as diverse as the country: Arab influences mix with Syrian and Lebanese influences and result in a wonderfully tasting overall picture of the Levant. From this, the authors have put together over 110 recipes that can also be cooked in our kitchens and in our everyday lives. From breakfast to sauces and salads, lavish main courses with meat and fish to pastries and sweets, there is something for everyone. Green shakshuka, labneh balls, m’tabbal - an eggplant dip with tahini - or za’atar squid with tomato salsa whet your appetite for Palestinian cuisine.

Recipe for delicious labneh balls

Labneh is a type of Arabic cheese and one of the absolute basics of Palestinian cuisine. There is hardly a table setting without this wonderful cream cheese. The basic recipe is not only incredibly versatile, but also very easy to prepare. You let yogurt drain so that it loses most of its liquid. The longer the yogurt drains, the drier and firmer the result will be. You can process it straight away, for example use it for cooking or spread it on toasted bread and top it off with olive oil and za’atar, or shape it into balls and serve as an appetizer.

Ingredients for about 20 balls

  • 900 g Greek yogurt (or 450 g goat yogurt and 450 g Greek yogurt)
  • about 500 ml of olive oil
  • 3 sprigs of thyme (or oregano or a mixture)
  • 1.5 tbsp chilli flakes (enough for 10 balls)
  • 2.5 tbsp za’atar (enough for 10 balls)
  • salt

preparation

Line a deep bowl with a cloth or cheesecloth (a clean tea towel can be used as an alternative) and set aside. In a second bowl, mix the yogurt with 1 teaspoon salt, then add to the lined bowl. Bring the corners of the cloth together, twist them together and tie. Hang the bundle above the bowl (or by the handle of a tall jug so the liquid can drain into the jug) and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours until most of the liquid has drained off and the yogurt is firm and relatively dry.

When the liquid has drained off, pick up a small amount of the mixture (about 20 g) with lightly oiled hands, roll it into a ball about 3 cm in diameter between the palms and place on a sheet covered with a damp, clean cloth. In this way, shape all the labneh into balls and place on the cloth. Place the finished balls in the refrigerator for a few hours (or overnight) so that they set.

Fill a large glass (about 20 cm high, Ø 10 cm) halfway with olive oil and add the balls. If necessary, add a little more oil - the balls must be completely covered. Add the thyme or oregano. Seal the jar and place in the refrigerator.

Before serving, the balls are rolled in chilli flakes or za’atar - this can be done up to a day in advance. Take the glass out of the refrigerator and let it warm to room temperature so that the oil liquefies again. Place the chilli flakes or za’atar on a plate, add a few balls at a time, swirl the plate and carefully circle until coated.

If the balls are not served immediately, put them back in the refrigerator on a plate (not in the oil). Remove them in good time before serving, they should not be cold in the fridge.

Store: Labneh balls in oil can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. The oil solidifies in the refrigerator, so it has to warm up to room temperature before you can take the balls out.

Recipe for eggplant casserole with chickpeas and tomatoes

If you think of Greek moussaka now, you are not so wrong. It is a vegetarian version of the well-known casserole - hearty, simple, healthy and absolutely delicious. It can be enjoyed as a main course as well as as a side dish to anything, such as grilled meat, fish or tofu or as a filling for baked potatoes. It's one of those dishes you want in the fridge when you come home in the evening. The casserole also tastes cold, so the best prerequisites for taking it with you to work in a Tupperware jar.

Ingredients for 4 people as a main course or for 6 people as a side dish

  • 5 medium eggplants (1.25 kg)
  • 120 ml of olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced (160 g)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 teaspoons of tomato paste
  • 2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into 3 cm pieces (200 g)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (400 g), rinsed and drained (240 g)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (400 g)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • 15 g coriander greens, roughly chopped, plus 5 g for serving
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1.5 cm thick slices (350 g)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt

preparation

Preheat the oven to 220 ° C (convection). Peel the peel of the aubergines lengthways with a vegetable peeler, creating a zebra stripe pattern. Then cut the aubergines crosswise into 2 cm thick slices and mix carefully in a large bowl with 75 ml oil, 1 teaspoon salt and plenty of pepper. Spread on two baking sheets covered with baking paper and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are very soft and lightly browned. Take out of the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 180 ° C (circulating air).

While the eggplants are cooking in the oven, prepare the sauce: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium to high temperature and fry the onion in it for about 7 minutes until it is soft and lightly browned. Stir in garlic, chilli, cumin, cinnamon and tomato paste and fry for 1 minute. Add the peppers, chickpeas, canned tomatoes, sugar and 200 ml water, 1.25 teaspoons salt and a strong pinch of pepper and simmer over a medium heat for 18 minutes until the peppers are cooked through. Stir in the coriander leaves and set aside the sauce.

Line the bottom of a large ovenproof dish (about 20 × 30 cm) with half of the plum tomatoes and half of the aubergines. Spread the sauce on top and layer the remaining tomatoes and aubergines. Drizzle another 1 tablespoon of oil over the vegetables, seal the tin with aluminum foil and put it in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake the casserole for another 20 minutes, until the sauce bubbles and the tomatoes are soft. Take out of the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Garnish with the remaining coriander leaves and serve warm or chilled.

About the authors

Sami Tamimi is a cook and cookbook author. Together with celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi, he has already landed a bestseller success with the cookbook “Jerusalem” and elevated Levant cuisine to a long-lasting food trend. He himself is a Palestinian and has his own culinary history that is closely linked to the dishes of his homeland. Sami Tamimi grew up in Jerusalem - with his father's simple za’atar eggs, his mother's buttermilk fattouch and many other traditional Palestinian dishes. The native Palestinian now lives and works in London.

Tara Wigley grew up in London. She is a recipe developer, a passionate cook and has been part of Yotam Ottolenghi's team since 2010. For this cookbook, she traveled to Palestine with Sami Tamimi to capture her experiences in wonderful recipes, stories and photos.

Info about the book

Palestine - The Cookbook
Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley
Dorling Kindersley Verlag 2020
Linen cover, 352 pages, 130 photos
Price: 28.80 euros
ISBN: 978-3-8310-3982-1

Copyright: Ebury Press, Dorling Kindersley Verlag
Recipes: Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley
Photos: Jenny Zarins, Pixabay.com/lysindamond