Taste of Palestine

On April 24, 2023, one of Growing Palestine’s board members hosted a fundraiser, “Taste Palestine,” to benefit the farmers on the West Bank. The 40 available seats were filled, and local businesses made contributions as well.

Held at a private home in northern Virginia, the dinner featured a culinary journey of Palestine with foods and flavors representing 15 towns and villages. As the guests tasted multiple dishes that were beautifully presented, they also learned about Palestinian culinary history and the nutritional value of the cuisine—such as the protein-packed lentil, the vitamin- and iron-rich mulukhiyya leaves, and the high-fiber bulghur wheat.

The evening began with manaeesh bil-filfil (roasted red pepper flatbread) and manaeesh bil-zaatar (zaatar and olive oil flatbread) cooked on a taboon (open-air oven), which traditionally served as the family, neighborhood, or village oven. The baking process was so engaging that some of the guests jumped in to help cook the breads!

The mouth-watering menu included tasting portions of stuffed grapeleaves and squash, mulukhiyya (jute mallow stew), mansaf (lamb with cooked yogurt), maftool (whole wheat pearls), shish barak (meat dumplings in yogurt), two types of kibbeh from the Galilee, Gaza summaqiyya (lemony lamb stew with sumac), and Palestine’s crown jewel: Salaheddin’s makloobeh (an inverted lamb and vegetable pilaf). For dessert, guests enjoyed knafeh Nabulsiyya and the three traditional ma‘amoul cookies: pistachio, date, and walnut.

To achieve a wide representation and experience of Palestine’s vast and diverse culinary traditions, the evening ran late into the night. Guests left with a deeper understanding of Palestinian cuisine and its history and why this ancestral knowledge was a gift for all of us to appreciate and build upon.