Palestinian food is a mix of the local cuisine, the Diaspora as well as of the neighboring states; the majority of Palestinian food styles were influenced by the Arab Ummayad conquest followed by the Persians and finally the Turkish settlers who moved in to the region. Food from this region has contributions from the local Levantine cuisines along with Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian cultures.
Classification of Palestinian Cuisine
There are three primary regions that are present in Palestine according to which food has been divided.
- Galilee is based very close to Lebanon and as a result, it has several Palestinian food influences from the region. A number of meals are eaten the day but lunch is the most prominent meal.
- The West Bank is distinctly different culinary region where meals are heavy are very different in nature. Typical Palestinian meals involve rice, flatbreads and meat in many forms that are served together.
- The Gaza strip is based very close to the sea and many fish dishes are common in this region. The culinary influences include dill seeds, garlic, ginger and influences from Egypt.
Historical and Cultural Influences on Palestinian Cooking
Palestine has for long been a region that has culinary influences from all the neighboring states. Syrian, Turkish, and Arab invasions and settlers resulted in the unique cuisine that exists today.
Ingredients Commonly Used in Palestinian Cooking
Fish, meat, chicken and vegetables are all used equally in the region. Due to the large geographically distance, there are regional differences that arise in the cooking method and the ingredients that are used. Dried fruits and nuts are used extensively in the day to day cuisine. Varieties of breads are baked like khubz, pita, taboon, and markook and are eaten at every meal. Dips and salads made from vegetables and chickpeas are very commonly served with meat and vegetable dishes. For example, hummus or pureed chickpeas, baba ghanoush or baked and pureed eggplant, mutabbel and labeneh or sour cream are very common at every meal. Black tea is also served all through the day. Sweets using honey and dates are common. But baked goods like baklava, halwa, etc are common too.
Traditional Palestinian cuisine and Local Palestinian Cooking
Popular Palestinian food that are prepared in day to day life are-
- Mezze or maza that is a variety of starters like hummus, baba ghanoush, mutabbel and labeneh served with or at the start of the meal. Acknawi is a hard cheese that is eaten very commonly in the region.
- Rummaniyya or a vegetable stew with raw pomegranate seeds, brinjals, seasame seed paste, garlic, hot peppersm onions, and lentils.
- Fukharit adas or slow cooked lentil stew with herbs, red pepper flakes, ginger and garlic.
Palestine is a predominantly Muslim region and pork is not cooked.