Tabbouleh is a parsley salad popular throughout the Arab world and the proportions differ from area to area, but unlike American versions which are heavy on bulgur, the most common version in Palestine is made with only a little bulgur. Avoid chopping the parsley too much in order to make a light, fluffy tabbouleh.



  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 large bunches of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 small seedless cucumbers, finely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • equal amounts lemon juice and olive oil, about 1/4-1/2 cup each
  • salt, to taste


  • In a small bowl, soak the bulgur in water until it is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, mint and bulgur.
  • Add lemon juice, olive oil and salt, mix well. Taste and adjust as necessary.

Macarona bil Fourn

Macarona bil fourn is spaghetti baked in an allspice-seasoned tomato-beef sauce, topped with a rich layer of bechamel sauce. In Palestine, all pasta is referred to as “macarona” and I like to use bucatini  because it is closest to what my family-in-law uses. You can also use your favorite jarred tomato sauce instead of making one from scratch if desired.



  • 1lb bucatini or spaghetti

Tomato-beef sauce

  • 1/2lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 gloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup water


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 egg yolk


  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (parmesan, gruyere, mozzarella etc)


  • Prepare the tomato -beef sauce by heating the olive oil in a medium size sauce pan over medium-high, add the ground beef and cook until it looses its pink color, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves and spices, stirring until onions soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce, basil and 1 cup of water and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the bechamel by warming the milk. In another saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat and add the flour. Stir as the butter melts and cook stirring constantly until the mixture darkens, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the milk slowly. Add the white pepper and salt and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in the egg yolk.
  • Prepare and cook the pasta according to package directions.
  • Transfer half of the cooked pasta to a large baking dish. Spoon the tomato-beef sauce over the top, then top with remaining pasta. Spoon the bechamel over the top and then sprinkle the cheese over the bechamel.
  • Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


Koosa Mashe

These koosa mashe (stuffed baby zucchini) are cooked in a tomato/yogurt sauce. Jameed is a defatted and dehydrated yogurt most commonly used in a popular dish called “mansaf”. Ziyad products makes a soup starter with jameed is in a shelf stable liquid form which is what I used in the sauce recipe. Jameed is definitely an acquired taste, and I didn’t like it the first time I tried it! But when it’s mixed with the tomato sauce, the flavor is less intense. Some people cook the zucchini strictly in a yogurt sauce, others only in a tomato sauce, but my family-in-law cooks it in the tomato/yogurt combination sauce. A special tool is used for coring the zucchini. These long metal corers can be found in Middle Eastern markets very cheaply, or you can order one online.



  • 8 small zucchini (also called “Mexican zucchini”
  • 1 cup medium-grain rice
  • 1/4-1/2lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 box Ziyad brand Soup Starter
  • 5-6 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon samne (ghee, or clarified butter)


  • Carefully cut tops of zucchini and core them, scraping out the insides until about 1/4 inch is left all around.
  • Rinse rice well and soak in hot water for 20-3o minutes.
  • Drain rice and mix in ground beef, parsley and spices.
  • Stuff the zucchini with the rice mixture about 3/4 full. One common measure in Palestine is to stick you pinky finger in the zucchinMixi and if the stuffing reaches about half-way up your finger it is the right amount.
  • Place zucchini on their sides in a large stock pot.
  • Mix together the sauce ingredients, it should be a light orange color, and pour over the zucchini.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours.


Fattoush is a Palestinian salad with toasted or fried pita bread, with other vegetables in a sumac-spiced dressing which gives it a sour/lemony taste. It’s simple but so good that I could eat fattoush every day and never get bored of it. My family-in-law actually soaks the bread so that it is soggy in the salad, but I prefer to fry the pita pieces and wait to add them until just before serving.


  • 2 hearts of romaine, chopped
  • 3 small seedless cucumbers, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh sprig of mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 pita bread loaves, cut in 1-inch squares
  • Oil for frying


  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons ground sumac
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the bread in batches until golden, less than a minute. Drain on paper towels.
  • Combine vegetables in large serving bowl.
  • Combine dressing ingredient and pour over vegetables and toss to coat.
  • Prior to serving top with fried bread.

Basbousa bil Ishta

This is a variation of basbousa, a sugar-syrup sweetened semolina cake, that has a layer of ishta (clotted cream) in the middle. Ishta is Hebronese slang for “qishta” and the cream is a major ingredient in many Palestinian desserts. I first tried this version of basbousa bil ishta when I was in Amman, Jordan. My husband’s uncle’s wife prepared it and she is an excellent cook. Serve basbousa bil ishta with tea or Arabic coffee.


  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Nestle table cream
  • 1 cup fine semolina
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Ishta ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nestle table cream


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  • Pour half the batter into a medium size baking dish and bake until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare the ishta. In a saucepan over medium-highly heat, combine the ingredients and stir until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and pour the ishta evenly over the top.
  • Wait a few minutes, then add 1/4 cup water to the rest of the basbousa batter and pour it over the ishta layer.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Then broil it on high for 2-5 minutes until it turns a reddish/brown.
  • Pour cooled atar over the top of the hot cake, let it cool, then refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Palestinian Moussaka

Despite most peoples’ familiarity with the Greek version of moussaka, the origin of the dish is Arab and the word “musaqa’a” is Arabic. My family-in-law pronounces it “‘msa’a” and the Palestinian version, doesn’t usually have bechamel. However, I learned this “easy bechamel sauce” from my Saudi friend and it gives a very good flavor to the dish.  In the picture, the tomatoes are on top but actually they should be above the meat layer. Serve this dish with pita bread and a simple salad.



  • 4 baking potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggplants, 1/2 inch thick slices, rounds or length-wise
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground lamb or ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced

“Easy bechamel”

  • 1 can Nestle Table Cream
  • 3 Tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 cups whole milk


  • Fry the potato and eggplant slices in batches and drain on paper towels.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-heat and saute the shopped onion until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef and brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Drain excess oil from the ground beef and add the tomato paste and spices. Add 1/4-1/2 cup water.
  • Layer half the potato slices in a 13×9 baking dish and sprinkle with salt. Layer half the eggplant on top of the potato slices and sprinkle with salt.
  • Spread the meat mixtures over the eggplant. Place the tomato slices over the meat mixture.
  • Place the second layer of eggplant over the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt.
  • Add the final layer of potatoes and sprinkle with salt.
  • Combine the “bechamel” ingredients in a blender and pour into the baking dish.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

layering the ingredients



Ka’ak bil Ajweh

Ka’ak is the Arabic word for “cake” and is used to refer to many types of different baked treats. This anise flavored sweet bread gets its yellow color from turmeric and is stuffed with a spiced, pureed date mixture. It smells wonderful while baking and is served with tea. This recipe makes two rings but you can vary the size and make smaller individually-sized rings.



  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons ground anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Spice date paste

  • 1-2 pound pitted dates
  • 1 Tablespoon samna baladiya (clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground habat al baraka (black seeds or nigella seeds)

Egg wash

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


  • In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, sugar, salt, anise and turmeric).
  • In a smaller bowl, combine wet ingredients (egg white, milk, water and butter) then add to the dry ingredients.
  • Mix and knead until a dough is formed (about 5 minutes).
  • Coat the bowl in a little oil, cover the dough and let rise until it is double is size, about one hour.
  • In the meantime, prepare the date paste by pouring boiling water over the pitted dates to soften, let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then drain.
  • Add the dates to a food processor (first coat the blades in a little oil) and add the butter and spices. Puree until smooth and place in the fridge to firm up somewhat.
  • When the dough has risen, divide into two balls.
  • Roll out the ball into a large, dinner-plate size circle. Take half the date mixture and form first into a long snake and bring the ends together to form a ring, place on top of the dough circle leaving 2 inches around the edge.
  • Fold the dough edges over the date ring to enclose, then make a hole in the middle of the dough and press the edges together to make the stuffed dough ring, flatten slightly. Cut slits all around at 1-2 inch intervals.
  • Cover and let rise again for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Combine the egg wash ingredients and brush over the dough rings.
  • Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.