June 27th, 2011
01:45 PM ET
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Women in the West Bank town of Nablus are preparing to open a cookery school to teach Palestinian specialties to foodie tourists.

The school will be part of a cultural and social center, called Bait Al Karama, and will be the first women-led cookery school in the Palestinian Territories, according to its organizers.

It has already joined the Slow Food movement, the international association set up to combat fast food culture and concerned with organic, locally-sourced food.

Read Hungry for adventure? Head to West Bank cookery school and get recipes for Knafeh and Makloubet Zaher below.

Knafeh, a sweet made from specialty cheese, originally from Nablus


  • 1 packet Kataifi pastry (about 1 kg)
  • 1/2 pound melted butter melted (227 grams)
  • 1 pound Akkawi or Nabulsyya cheese (454 grams)
  • 1/2 pound Mozzarella cheese (227 grams)
  •  sugar syrup
  •  pistachios

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and butter the baking pan.
  2. Soak the Akkawi cheese for an hour or so to get rid of the salt, changing the water frequently until most of the salt is washed out.
  3. In a large bowl gently loosen the knafeh dough.
  4. Mix very well with the half pound of melted butter by rubbing the dough between your hands with the butter, adding it little by little. This process should take about 10 to 15 minutes. The dough should become fluffy and light, if you gather it with your hands and let go it should retain its fluffy texture. Cover the pan with three-quarters of the dough, press down lightly.
  5. Add cheese evenly, then add the top layer of the dough, not as thick as the bottom layer. Press down gently.
  6. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 to 18 minutes.
  7. If you shake the pan, it should be loose and the edges are brownish, this means that the knafeh is done.
  8. Immediately pour cold sugar syrup evenly over the hot knafeh, sprinkle the pistachios on top of it and serve hot.

Makloubet Zaher an upside-down dish with cauliflower, rice and beef


  • 1 kg beef, trimmed and cut in chunks
  • 1 whole peeled onion
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil or samneh
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 cauliflower cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups rice grain
  • 1 tablespoon samneh or clarified butter
  • At least 3 cups hot water (less if you add the meat juice)

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large pan, brown the meat with the hot oil or samneh. Add the salt and the spices and enough water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil then let it simmer covered for 60/70 minutes, depending on the type and cut of the meat.
  2. In the meanwhile, fry the cauliflower in a separate pan in ½ cup olive oil until it is soft and golden. Let them drain over the kitchen paper.
  3. Wash the rice and leave it to drain.
  4. Melt the butter or samneh in a large aluminum pan, add the rice and stir until all the rice is coated with butter. Remove half the rice and even the rice at the bottom, add a layer of the fried cauliflower and chunks of meat, saving the juice. Add the remaining rice and top with a layer of the remaining vegetables.
  5. Measure the liquid of the meat and add enough water to make 3 cups. Bring to boil on a high heat with the pan covered. Lower the heat until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  6. Turn the pot upside down in a large platter (metal plate) and lift the pot carefully. Serve with yogurt and a lettuce salad.

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Filed under: Cooking • Make • Middle East • Middle Eastern • News • Recipes

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Mycology

    Independence? From who? The men who own them? The culture who commands them to send their children to be suicide bombers?

    or from the Cult that stones them to death if they have the unfortunate of being raped.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • For your

      information, their culture doesn't at all command people to do horrible things like that – that goes against everything Islam would ever preach.

      Also, 1. It's not a cult. It's a religion.

      2. That part about the stoning is not in the Quran either. You also forget that lots of things are prohibited in the Bible that no one pays attention to nowadays – even if a holy book were to preach something horrible, that doesn't reflect badly on the religion itself. It doesn't represent the whole beauty of a religion.

      July 10, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  2. Jdizzle McHammerpants

    Women in Islamic culture have been held down so long, it is most excellent to read and taste these recipes.

    No politics intended. Fact.

    June 27, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  3. Mark Newbold

    The recipes look & sound amazing! I'd attend the cooking school if I ever got to Nablus. Good luck to all involved in this venture.

    June 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
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