A Celebration of Palestinian Food': NPR

Some of the items offered in Fadi Kattan's new cookbook Bethlehem: A Celebration of Indonesian Food

Ashley Lima/Hardie Grant


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Ashley Lima/Hardie Grant

Some of the items offered in Fadi Kattan's new cookbook Bethlehem: A Celebration of Indonesian Food

Some of the items offered in Fadi Kattan's new cookbook Bethlehem: A Celebration of Indonesian Food

Ashley Lima/Hardie Grant

Chef Fadi Kattan is well aware that this may not be the right time to release a cookbook about Palestinian food – not when the people of Gaza are going hungry.

“But you know my publisher is Jewish,” he said Morning edition host Leila Fadel. “She said, now the book has even more meaning.”

That's because his book – Bethlehem: a celebration of Palestinian food – is dedicated to preserving part of a culture torn apart by decades of displacement and war. It is a love letter through food to his childhood home in the West Bank.

“I started doing food tours in Bethlehem and taking people to the markets,” he said. “In the book I really wanted to be able to convey this to people and say: look, you are coming with me to visit Bethlehem through the recipes.”

Chef Fadi Kattan

Chef Fadi Kattan

Elias Halabi/Hardie Grant


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Elias Halabi/Hardie Grant

Chef Fadi Kattan

Chef Fadi Kattan

Elias Halabi/Hardie Grant

The dishes reflect the diversity of Palestinians in Bethlehem and beyond, from a simple fig salad with olive oil and sumac – to the spiced rice and fish favorite Sayadieh Samak – to a Christmas fruit cake. With the crisis in Gaza, Kattan pleads: “Time is running out. We need to keep those recipes. We have to share them with people.”

Use the audio player at the top of the page to listen to the broadcast version of this story. Below is a recipe from Bethlehem: A Celebration of Palestinian Food.

LENTIL SOUP

'My mother cooks short adas, a lentil soup, for us as soon as the wind gets chilly in Bethlehem, and often in Lent. Widely regarded as the healthy option for many a fast and as food for the less fortunate, shorbat adas is in reality the noblest of soups, with its rituals of fresh side dishes: Palestinian chopped salad, radishes, spring onions and fried bread. “

380 g red lentils

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

Lentil soup by Fadi Kattan

Lentil soup by Fadi Kattan

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Ashley Lima/Hardie Grant

Lentil soup by Fadi Kattan

Lentil soup by Fadi Kattan

Ashley Lima/Hardie Grant

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground ginger 500 ml chicken stock or water

Juice of 2 lemons

2 flat breads, such as pita, kmaj or shrak

Green Shatta

SERVES 6

Mix the lentils with cold water and place them in a bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and fry for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin and ginger and fry for a further 3 minutes until the onions become translucent.

Drain the lentils and add them to the pot. Cover with the stock and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

Add the lemon juice and mix with a hand blender until creamy.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cut the bread into strips and fry briefly in the hot oil until light brown and crispy.

Serve the soup with fried bread on top and a dash of shatta.

The audio version of this story was produced by Milton Guevara. The digital version was published by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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