Palestinian Gastronomy

Palestinian families of the villages tend to be self-sufficient in all domestic activities, and mainly in cooking. They go to restaurants only on special occasions, so there are very few traditional restaurants in villages, whereas there are plenty of street food shops.

Recently, thanks to the new wave of tourism to villages, some families decided to open their houses to travellers and offer accommodation, homemade authentic Palestinian meals, and also cooking lessons for the guests, always warmed with their hospitality.

The itineraries of “Palestine: Tales of Hospitality” offer the opportunity to taste these specialties, of exceptional variety and richness, with the families of the home stays, guest houses and even the Women Associations. Of course, the desired specialty must be reserved in advance. But it is well worth it!

Most of these dishes can also be found in some neighboring countries, but in Palestine they have a special flavour given by the local spices and herbs.


  • Mansaf - منسف

    Lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yoghurt, served with rice or bulgur

  • Kusa Mahshe - محشي كوسا

    Zucchini filled with rice and meat with tomato sauce

  • Malfouf - مفلوف

    Rice and minced meat rolled in cabbage leaves

  • Kafta b’thine - كفتة بطحينة

    Ground meat balls cooked with thyme sauce, served with rice

  • Maftoul - مفتول

    Large couscous, garbanzo beans and chicken pieces cooked in chicken broth

  • Mahshi Lifet - محشي لفت

    Turnips stuffed with rice, minced lamb meat and spices, cooked in tamarind sauce

  • Maqlubeh - مقلوبة

    An "upside-down" dish, made with fried vegetables, meat (chicken/lamb) and rice

  • Mujaddara - مجدرة

    A dish from the Levant made from lentils and rice, garnished with crispy onions

  • Shushbarak - ششبرك

    Spiced lamb dumplings cooked in garlic yoghurt

  • Musakhan - مسخن

    Large taboon bread topped with plenty of onions cooked in deep virgin olive oil and chicken marinated in sumac and garnished with pine nuts

  • Zarb - زرب

    Chicken or meat, vegetables and rice with special spices in an iron cooking pot, slowly cooked in an underground hole of fire

  • Mulukhiyah - ملوخية

    Tasteful herb of jute mallow cooked with chicken for flavor, served with rice, accompanied with lemon or lime

Appetizers, side dishes and street food

The basic elements and appetizers of Palestinian food, like in most of the Arabic countries, are “street food” and “take-away” in an environment which hardly knows the usual cafés-bar-confectioners’ so common elsewhere.

These specialties can either be tasted on the road or included among the various starters which fulfil the overflowing dining table at the beginning of the meal.

  • Hummus - حمص

    The spread most known in the Middle East, and is made of cooked and mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and sometimes garlic

  • Duqqa - دقة

    mixture of thyme, herbs, and spices eaten with olive oil.

  • Falafel - فلافل

    Fried balls of ground chickpeas, spices and parsley with a hummus/tahini sauce

  • Freekeh - فريكة

    Cereal food made from green durum wheat roasted and rubbed

  • Pita - خبز كماج

    Round flatbreads loaves of wheat flour, baked and with an interior pocket

  • Shawarma - شاورما

    Pita bread, gyro meat, tahini and various vegetables

  • Taboon - خبز طابون

    Flatbread baked in a taboon oven or a tannur

  • Za’tar - زعتر

    Aromatic thyme with toasted sesame seeds, dried sumac, salt, as well as other spices


The Arabic tradition of the delicious sweets is strongly present in Palestinian villages with an extra opportunity. In many confectioners’ shops, the owner is willing and prepared, when informed in time, to prepare a cooking lesson about one of his specialties, and even teach the guests how to make them.

  • Knafeh - كنافة

    Thin noodle pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, and typically layered with cheese, or cream or nuts

  • Baklava - بقلاوة

    Rich, sweet pastry dessert made of layers of phyllo and chopped nuts, sweetened and held together with syrup or honey

  • Harisseh - هريسة

    Semolina cake made with orange or rose water and steeped in syrup

  • Ma’amul - معمول

    Cookies or pastries containing figs, walnuts, and dates. Eaten during the Eid of Ramadan.

  • Mhalabiyeh - مهلبية

    Palestinian version of “panna cotta”, commonly flavored with mastic, a pleasant flavor reminiscent of licorice or pine.

  • Eish al-Saraya (the bread of the royal palaces)

    Syrup soaked breadcrumbs topped with clotted cream and pistachios. It does not contain eggs or butter.

  • Warbat or Kullaj - كلاج

    Cheese stuffed phyllo dough