Palestinian food is one of the most varied and dynamic Middle Eastern cuisines. This is partly because of the geographical diversity of the land between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, but also because of the myriad influences and evolutions that the classic dishes have undergone as they have been cooked by Palestinians in the diaspora all over the world.
For many Palestinians living outside of their homeland, food has become a way of expressing their culture, connecting them to their roots and asserting their existence as a people with a shared national identity. The following 10 foodies are creating delectable dishes from Gaza to London to California. On this list you’ll find a mixture of famous best-selling authors and lesser-known, creative, sometimes part-time cooks. Follow them on social media for recipe inspiration, cooking classes and a unique insight into Palestinian cultural heritage.
Laila El-Haddad @gazamom
📍 Gaza / Maryland
Leila El-Haddad is a public speaker and journalist who has worked as a correspondent for Al Jazeera English and regular contributor to the BBC World Service. She is also the author of Gaza Mom, co-author of The Gaza Kitchen and co-editor of Gaza Unsilenced. Aside from sharing her delicious food, her Instagram also gives a unique insight into the situation in Gaza.
Sami Tamimi @sami_tamimi
Sami Tamimi is a chef, author, restaurateur, winner of the James Beard Award for International Cooking and author of Falastin, a cookbook of contemporary twists on traditional Palestinian recipes. Sami was the business partner of Yotam Ottolenghi, and in 2012 the pair co-authored Jerusalem, a cookbook paying homage to the city where they were both born in the same year, Sami in the Arab east side and Yotam in the Jewish west.
Reem Kassis @reem.kassis
Reem Kassis is the Jerusalem-born author of the award-winning cookbook, The Palestinian Table. Her food is inspired by the days she spent as a child learning everything there was to know about Palestinian cooking in her grandmothers’, mother’s and aunts’ kitchens. Through her cooking, she hopes to harness the power of food, family and storytelling to preserve the rich history and culinary traditions of Palestinians and share them with the world.
Yasmin Khan @yasminkhanstories
Yasmin Khan is a best-selling food writer and broadcaster whose book, Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen, is widely recognised as one of the best resources for Palestinian cooking. Through her books, she hopes to use everyday stories to build human connection and challenge stereotypes of the Middle East. She is also an activist and public speaker on issues such as human rights in the Middle East.
Vivien Sansour @vivien.sansour
📍 West Bank
Vivien Sansour is an artist, conservationist and creator of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library and the Traveling Kitchen project, which work with farmers around the world to find and reintroduce threatened crop varieties so that we can “eat history rather than store it away as a relic of the past”. On her Instagram, you can follow her work in the West Bank and beyond.
Joudie Kalla @palestineonaplate
Joudie Kalla is the author of Palestine on a Plate and Baladi: Palestine – A Celebration of Food from Land and Sea. Her books contain authentic Palestinian recipes inspired by her heritage and her homeland (Baladi means ‘my country’ in Arabic). She gives a percentage of her profits to the Palestinian House of Friendship in Nablus, which supports children, youth and their families in towns, villages and refugee camps in the West Bank. Follow her on Instagram for food inspiration and information about the cooking classes she teaches on Zoom, teaching Palestinian classics like knafeh, malfouf and shis barak.
Inaam Shahin & Marah AbuDieyah @bateekh.w.jebneh
📍 Doha / Montreal
Inaam and Marah are a Mother-Daughter duo of Palestinian heritage who develop recipes inspired by classic Palestinian cuisine, from cheesy Nablusi knafeh to flaky za’atar pastry twists. Follow them on Instagram for their full collection of recipes, which they share in their stories.
Heba is a vegan cook who grew up in Saudi Arabia, where she was exposed to a myriad of flavours thanks to her Palestinian family, who were scattered around the world. Heba creates mostly vegan alternatives to the classic Palestinian dishes, running supper clubs in London where she serves up home-made, family style feasts.
Mai is a recipe creator who grew up in Palestine enjoying big family lunches of home cooked food made with local flavours and ingredients. On her website, she shares the Palestinian-inspired recipes she has developed on her travels and during her time living in the USA. She shares beautiful photos of her creations on Instagram, along with stories and insights into the cultural significance of famous Palestinian ingredients and dishes.
Hiba Al-Jitan @hibajitan
Hiba is a Palestinian chef based in Jerusalem whose passion for cooking stems from her time spent in her mother’s kitchen as a child. Hiba sees cooking as an art form and she shares her recipes in Arabic on her website, Hiba’s Food. She is also the founder of the popular Instagram page, @yourpalestine, which curates content from Palestinian food bloggers around the world.
Did we miss anyone?! Who are your favourite Palestinian foodies? Let us know in a comment below.
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