Palestine on a Plate – a brand new book
A story about Palestine on a Plate: first an App, now a wonderful book as well! Read the story about Palestinian chef Joudie Kalla (published in Haaretz – http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/modern-manna/1.658467).
Joudie Kalla cooks to preserve memories. She learned to cook from her Palestinian parents, whose families fled Lod and Safed during Israel’s War of Independence. From them, Kalla absorbed the memories she is now trying to preserve.
Kalla was born in Qatar and grew up in London, where she lived with her three sisters and one brother, as well as aunts and cousins. Her mother cooked for all of them.
“She showed love through food so she cooked five to six different things every day. She cooked to remember home, to keep it alive,” Kalla is now a caterer and a restaurateur in London. She had a Middle Eastern restau-rant in Chelsea named Baity, which means “my house” in Arabic and in Hebrew, from 2010 to 2013.
Now she is seeking to preserve her family’s culinary memories by documenting her mother’s and aunts’ recipes, presenting them to the public via a beautiful and inspiring app called Palestine on a Plate. In her app, traditional Palestinian and Middle Eastern dishes such as fattoush (a salad of chopped vegetables with day-old toasted or fried pita bread), freekeh soup (smoked green wheat soup) and masabaha (chickpeas in tahini sauce) sit comfortably next to more modern creations such as a scrumptious looking banana, medjool date and chocolate cake, and tahini brownies. All recipes are accompanied by gorgeous photos, and a touch of politics: In our region, politics is part of everything, even food.
Kalla’s favorite dishes include sayadiyeh, a lemon- and cumin-infused cod that’s served with cumin rice and tahini-yogurt sauce. “It’s ridiculously good,” she told me. “I mean, you want to cry sometimes while eating it.”
And then there’s maqloubeh, a lamb, rice and fried eggplant dish that many people consider to be the Palestinian national dish. Kalla serves hers with yogurt.
Her favorite dessert is mutabak, a very thin pastry stuffed with haloumi cheese, quickly cooked and then drizzled with sugar syrup. “It’s delicious, it’s simple, it’s only four ingredients, but you feel like you’ve eaten an explosion of flavors,” she said.
Nevertheless, she had to delete some of the comments she got on Instagram, including hurtful ones written in Hebrew alleging that she stuffs her food with explosives, that there’s no thing as Palestine, and no such thing as Palestinians. These comments just make her sad.
“We all come from this background where we have hot blood and we want to fight about everything,” she said, laughing, “but sometimes you just need to cool down and just enjoy the falafel and hummus and be happy.”