Those with a passion for food will be happy to know that some Palestinian chefs organize cooking classes that take participants to local markets where they carefully select the ingredients they need for their dishes. Tourists can immerse themselves in Palestinian traditions and flavors while learning how to cook authentic dishes. Classes are offered by Dar Al-Majus in Bethlehem, Tashkeel in Hebron, and Dar Alkalima University in Bethlehem, Sacred Cuisine offers cooking classes and food tours in Jerusalem, and Housh Alsiryan’s chef Fadi Kattan offers food tours in Bethlehem, to name just a few.In the summer, no gastronomic tour of Palestine is complete without a stop at one of the very popular and charming local cafés. Visitors can indulge in the tradition of enjoying tea with mint at Al-Inshirah in Ramallah or Sami in Bethlehem. Alternatively, the numerous local juice shops you find in all Palestinian cities, including Jerusalem, entice visitors with the alluring aromas and vibrant colors of a wide variety of freshly squeezed seasonal fruit juices. Tourists will be delighted by a scoop of ice cream with Arabic gum and pistachio in one of the famous shops such as Rukab or Baladna in Ramallah. In Jenin, watermelons, the city’s symbol, are popular and consumed frequently during summer. In Nablus, despite the hot weather, a stop at one of the old city’s knafeh shops, such as Al-Aqsa, is a must for all visitors – here, you can also watch how cooks prepare one of the most famous and delicious sweets of Palestine. Qalqilya is worth a trip to get delicious coffee and fully immerse yourself in high-quality spices and roasted nuts at Alrasheed shop. In Hebron, street vendors sell a traditional sweet called dahdah (made of semolina and ghee, filled with cinnamon, nuts, and shredded coconut, and covered with powdered sugar) and karabij halab (a deep-fried thick stick of dough that is dipped in ‘ater (syrup) just before it is served).
At Khadra in Ramallah.
Falafel are offered everywhere in Palestine, but in each city, they have their unique flavor. Enjoy them with salad and pickles in pita bread or for breakfast with hummus and ful (smashed fava beans). You definitely should not miss the ones offered by Umbashi Falafel in Jenin or Falafel Abusamaha in Al-Bireh.
At local bakeries – which you find in every city and town, such as Mario’s in Al-Bireh – visitors have the chance to try many kinds of mana’ish (small salty pastries and pies) prepared from local ingredients that include olive oil, zaatar (thyme, either fresh or dried and mixed with sesame seeds), Palestinian goat cheese, eggs, or meat. In Jerusalem, be sure to taste ka’ek simsim (sesame bread), sold by street vendors around Damascus Gate and the Garden Tomb. In Hebron, visitors can find delicious fattet al-krum, a summer salad made with old bread, tomatoes, and laban jameed (a special sauce made of dried goat or sheep milk yogurt). Visit one of the popular sha’abi restaurants that offer mansaf (lamb meat cooked in dried sheep and goat-milk yogurt, served on a piece of thin bread that is covered with a bed of rice, and topped with roasted almonds or pine nuts), maqloubeh (meat, fried vegetables, and rice placed in layers in a pot and flipped upside down before serving; the vegetarian version is tasty as well), or kidre (a dish that originates from Hebron, is prepared with rice, meat, and samn baladi (ghee), and cooked in the oven in a special pot made of copper). And if you wish to eat musakhan (a very popular authentic Palestinian dish of onions that are succulently fried in olive oil, served on thick oven-baked taboun bread that has been drenched in olive oil and chicken broth, adorned and enhanced by the special taste and color of sumac, and topped with roasted almonds) head to Tulkarem, as their musakhan ensures a unique experience!
Stretchy Rukab ice cream.
In terms of drinks, Palestine offers tourists a range of options for all tastes, and local drinks can accompany the delicious Palestinian local cuisine from north to south. Wine is made from international grapes to produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Rosé wines or from indigenous Palestinian grapes, such as Nadim Bituni and Cremisan Baladi red wines and Hamdani Jandali and Dabouki white wines. Local producers include Latroun Winery, Taybeh Winery, Domaine Kassis, Philokalia Natural Winery, and Cremisan Wine Estate. If you prefer a local beer, you can choose from a wide selection of beers and ales drafted by Taybeh Brewing Company or Shepherds from Birzeit Brewery. If you like something a bit stronger, arak made by local producers such as Muaddi Craft Distillery, Arak Philokalia, or Arak Ramallah will delight your palate. And those who prefer to avoid alcohol should definitely take a stroll across the souqs that are found in all towns and cities and stop to enjoy one of the traditional fresh drinks, such as kharroub (carob) and sous (licorice), that are sold by peddlers who tend to don the local street vendors’ traditional red dress, wearing wide trousers and a tarboush (fez).