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Posted by vegetariancooking in Beverages, Uncategorized.
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Serves about 6-8

“She offered me a chair by the kitchen table and disappeared through the service door that led to the garden and came back with 6 lemons and a small bunch of mint leaves. As she squeezed them and stirred the juice with sugar and water in a pitcher, I found myself trying to recollect when I last had fresh lemonade. She carefully washed a few mint leaves and put them in the pitcher, and from a small bottle that was sitting on a shelf, she added two drops of a sweet transparent liquid. She then sat across from me and remained silent. Before she finally took a sip from her drink, she pointed to mine as a form of invitation, and I had a spurt of the essential quality of what the earth can offer. It was the two drops of essence of orange blossom that made all the difference. — Christiane Dabdoub Nasser, “Leyla”

Juice of 6 large lemons
sugar to taste  make it too sweet, because you will serve this over lots of ice, which will dilute the sweetness
7 cups water
2 teaspoon orange blossom water
handful of tender fresh mint leaves
Squeeze the lemons and stir in the sugar. Add water and keep on stirring, making sure all the sugar has dissolved.

Add mint leaves, essence and blend well in a blender.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving in tall glasses with lots of ice.



Posted by vegetariancooking in Uncategorized.
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Thanks to Anna Mindess, we get to meet the wonderful Ayyad family from Palestine. Along with staying true to who they are, they seem to make mouth watering food from Palestine.

East Bay Ethnic Eats

Zaki-Ayyad family
Photo courtesy Zaki Kabob House

Middle Eastern restaurants dot the Bay Area dining scene, like parsley sprinkled over a plate of hummus. A recent discovery, Albany’s Zaki Kabob House, intrigued me for two reasons: the menu, featuring Palestinian dishes not commonly found at other shawarma-falafel spots, and the compelling story of Zaki’s determined owners, the Ayyad family.

Sitting on the patio of their modest green building on San Pablo Avenue, I spoke with Fayza, Kameem, Ramzy and Layla about their journey to opening Zaki (which means ‘delicious’ in Arabic) and some of their Palestinian specialties. (Palestinian cuisine includes foods prepared and eaten by Palestinians, whether living in the Palestinian Diaspora, West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Jordan, or refugee camps. It traces Persian, Turkish and Greek influences and shares features of other Levantine cuisines, such as Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian.)

Fayza, the matriarch and recipe developer, recently returned from…

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Palestine Ghorayebah (Almond Cookies) 06/15/2012

Posted by vegetariancooking in Sweets.
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1 cup of butter
3 cups of flour
½ cup of sugar
12 almonds (pealed + in halves)
1 tsp Vanilla


Beat the butter until it becomes creamy.
Mix the sugar plus vanilla with the creamy butter and beat it for another 5 minutes.
Add the flour to the mix and beat for another 10 minutes.
Cut the dough into small pieces and shape it in a small circle form.
Press in the middle using your thumb, then place an almond.
Grease oven sheets (you may not need to grease it since there is a lot of butter).
Place unbaked pieces of the Ghorayeba in the oven sheets 2 cm apart.
Place it in the oven at 150/160C. temperature for 30 minutes.
Take it out of the oven and, leave it to cool.
Place it in a serving plate.
You could sprinkle powder sugar before serving.


Warbat bil eshta (Cheese Puffs) وربات بالقشطة 06/15/2012

Posted by vegetariancooking in Sweets.
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1 15oz tub of ricotta cheese
1 package phyllo dough (make sure they are thin sheets)
1 stick of butter (melted)
1 cup of simple syrup:
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
2 teaspoon rose or orange blossom water
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice


First, make the syrup. Dissolve the sugar in the water and add the lemon juice. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally until syrup slightly thickens (about 10 minutes). Add rose water towards the end of the cooking time. Let stand to cool and set aside.
Next, prepare the ingredients to be assembled. Make sure the phyllo dough is thawed completely; set package of dough on flat surface (where you will assemble the warbat) and cover so dough does not dry out.
Melt the stick of butter and set aside, you will use a brush to apply the butter to the dough.
Make sure the ricotta is ready to use (you will use one tablespoon of ricotta per puff) Have a cookie sheet sprayed with oil and the oven preheated to 350 degrees F.
Now, you are ready to assemble. Take one sheet and place it flaton your table. Apply butter with a brush on half of the sheet, making sure to do this carefully, as the sheet is sensitive. Fold the buttered sheet in half forming a square. Brush a little more butter on the folded half. Then fold sheet a second time to form a long rectangle and brush on more butter. Now take one end of the rectangle and add 1 tablespoon of ricotta cheese. Now fold to one side and then to other. Keep doing this until a triangle is formed. Brush butter on top and place on cookie sheet. Keep doing this until you run out of phyllo sheets or ricotta, usually this recipe will make about 10 to 12 Warbat.
When they are all assembled, bake them for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of simple syrup on top of the hot Warbat, let them cool and enjoy!


Vegetarian Arabic Omelet (“ijee”) عجة 06/15/2012

Posted by vegetariancooking in Breakfast.
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Arabic Omelet (“ijee”) عجة


6 eggs, slightly beaten
4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch green onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter or 4 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried mint)
salt and pepper

1-Mix all ingredients except butter.
2-Place 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in pan and heat.
3-Drop 1/2 the mixture in a skillet. When set, turn the omelet on the other side. Fry until golden brown.
4-Repeat with the rest of the mixture to yield 2 omelets.


1948: Bread Left Baking in the Ovens of Palestine 06/12/2012

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is a collection of pictures and quotes from various linked sources.  Thanks to all the photographers who made this possible, as well as journalists who interviewed the refugees.  Most of all, thanks to the steadfst refugees of all ages, who continue to this day to hold the keys and titles to their land.


At 70 years of age, Ali has the dubious honor of recalling the full 62 years of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Ali has lived most of his life in the Ein Beit el Ma refugee camp in Nablus, but he never passes up an opportunity to revisit his childhood memories of Yazur village, from which he and his family fled in 1948 during al-nakba when he was a young boy.

“We were simple people, farmers,” Ali recalls. “Everyone knew each other in the village, and we worked together as one. My family’s home was two kilometers from the sea, and there on our land we grew oranges, apples, vegetables – everything that we needed.”

It was after the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British government’s first formal policy announcement of support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, that Jews first came to the area of Yazur. “There was a Jewish village established five kilometers from ours,” says Ali. “In the beginning we lived in harmony; we would even drink tea together and share our food with them.”  (See http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/91/memories-nakba.html


Food was left still warm and uneaten on tables, clothes left hanging in cupboards, and toys, photos and papers were all left behind in the rush to escape. But the 750,000 Palestinian refugees, who barely locked the doors to their homes behind them, all thought that they were coming back. (SEE http://ziomania.com/articles5/The%20Ghosts%20of%20Deir%20Yassin.htm)


lutching a rumpled package wrapped in a shopping bag, Ali Basyuni carefully peels back the layers of plastic and paper to reveal a heavy scroll of faded documents – the deeds to his family home in Yazur, a small village that once lay five kilometers east of Jaffa, Israel. The deeds date back over 120 years, through the Ottoman era and the British Mandate, but the Basyuni family’s history in the village can be traced back even further. The family had lived on the land for centuries. Somewhat ruefully, Ali sifts through the papers to find the crowning glory: the ancient key to his home in Yazur. He places it around his neck. Since the implementation of Israel’s Absentee Property Law of 1950, a law that legalized the annexation of over two million dunums of land belonging to Palestinians who fled during al-nakba (the catastrophe), the artifacts of Ali’s childhood home have become mere emblems of a promise: the Palestinian right of return.  http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/91/memories-nakba.html


The scale of the devastation was overwhelming: four in five Palestinian villages inside the borders of the new state were ethnically cleansed, an act of mass dispossession accompanied by atrocities. Around 95 per cent of new Jewish communities built between 1948-1953 were established on the land of expelled, denationalised Palestinians.  See http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/05/201151593642551148.html


The transfer of the Palestinian population is still ‘encouraged’ through highly discriminatory policies, some visible, such as home demolitions, closures, checkpoints, attacks on peaceful demonstrations, and others less so, such as the system of registration, permits, etc., special to Palestinians in the Occupied Territory (including Jerusalem) — a bureaucratic process straight out of Kafka’s nightmarish world.  http://rabble.ca/news/2010/05/al-nakba-expelled-home-and-native-land-not-history


“Oh, how I yearn for my childhood days. Today, I am 75 years old. I remember our home and family. Now, they are but a fading memory. We have been displaced and killed. We will not forget. Our grandchildren will be given the keys,” Um Anaam told Al-Safir. [Clarification: the reference to keys is to those which will unlock the houses left behind by the Palestinians in 1948.]  “Every day is Nakba to us. Our children are being killed and imprisoned. Our houses are being demolished and our land stolen, yet, the world does not lift a finger.”  http://uprootedpalestinians.blogspot.com/2012/05/particularly-bitter-nakba-day.html


Not far away from Hajja’s house in the camp lives 78-year-old Mohamed Ibrahim. The long years have taken their toll on the old man. The years weigh heavy on him, forcing his head to the ground. “Today, I do not feel like I exist. Although I still live among my family here, I am not at home. My house there was taken away from me. But I must return one day,” he told Al-Safir.  http://uprootedpalestinians.blogspot.com/2012/05/particularly-bitter-nakba-day.html


I never forget that 2003 Spring when my grandmother and I “went back” to our destroyed village Beit Jibrin.  We managed to get there despite the checkpoints and high level of security. It isn’t easy although the actual distance that separates my refugee camp from the village is less than an hour’s drive. I’d been there a few times before but never with her. This was the first time. I walked behind her climbing up a hill in the village. She seemed much stronger and able to walk faster than I remembered. She knew where exactly we were going as if she was there yesterday.

Under a fig tree we sat and my grandmother smiled and remembered when she used to play with her friends, decades ago. She said, “It’s the same tree, a little bit different now; it’s been more than 50 years after all. Nonetheless, it is the same tree.”

Her memories dated back to 1948. She was nearly 10 years old. Despite her young age, she remembered. She remembered her school, the lovely summer evenings she spent with her family in the village.  She remembered the harvest time and travelling to Haifa and Yafa with her dad to sell their produce. She also remembered the nights when the peaceful village was first attacked. “We never saw a fighter jet before”, she said. Maybe they had, I thought, but I’m sure it wasn’t the same sight as the one that was now spreading death and fear into people’s hearts in 1948. This was the same year that witnessed over 750,000 of the native Palestinian population expelled from their homes and villages.  So far, to this day, they have never been able to return.



Palestinian Fresh Vegan Salad, Tuning into Elvis Costello 06/10/2012

Posted by vegetariancooking in Salads.
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Palestinian Salad:

  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Tahini Dressing (below)
  • Chopped Hot Green Pepper to taste

Tahini Dressing Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all well into a creamy dressing.

Mix cucumbers, tomatoes, and add dressing.

Tune into super cool Elvis Costello, and enjoy this salad at the same time.

Elvis Costello: Remembering artists who respect the boycott

Nearly two years ago Elvis Costello cancelled his planned gig in apartheid Israel, and wrote the noted “It is After Considerable Contemplation…” statement on his “Yellow Press” blog.  Costello led the way for many other artists to also say YES to justice.  Here’s the well-known letter:

It is after considerable contemplation that I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the 1st of July.
One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament.
Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.
I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.
I am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation.
Some will regard all of this an unknowable without personal experience but if these subjects are actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way.
I offer my sincere apologies for any disappointment to the advance ticket holders as well as to the organizers.
My thanks also go to the members of the Israeli media with whom I had most rewarding and illuminating conversations.  They may regard these exchanges as a waste of their time but they were of great value and help to me in gaining an appreciation of the cultural scene.
I hope it is possible to understand that I am not taking this decision lightly or so I may stand beneath any banner, nor is it one in which I imagine myself to possess any unique or eternal truth.
It is a matter of instinct and conscience.
It has been necessary to dial out the falsehoods of propaganda, the double game and hysterical language of politics, the vanity and self-righteousness of public communiqués from cranks in order to eventually sift through my own conflicted thoughts.
I have come to the following conclusions.
One must at least consider any rational argument that comes before the appeal of more desperate means.
Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static and so an end to it.
I cannot imagine receiving another invitation to perform in Israel, which is a matter of regret but I can imagine a better time when I would not be writing this.
With the hope for peace and understanding.

Elvis Costello’s statement was published on his Web site on 15 May 2010; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes.

Making Palestinian Jerusalem Salad and listening to Pink Floyd 06/09/2012

Posted by vegetariancooking in Real Rock Stars Support Palestine, Salads.
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Palestinian Jerusalem Salad:

  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • 4 TBSP Tahini Dressing (below)
  • Chopped Hot Green Pepper to taste

Tahini Dressing Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine all well into a creamy dressing.

Mix cucumbers, parsley, tomatoes, and add dressing, pepper, and mix well.

While eating, please read about why one of the greatest artists ever known to rock and roll has decided to support the global movement for justice for Palestinians.  

(from http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/11/cultural-boycott-west-bank-wall)

Israeli separation wall in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis

A Palestinian woman walks past the wall on the Israeli side of the Abu Dis neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Photograph: Kobi Gideon/EPA

In 1980, a song I wrote, Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, was banned by the government of South Africa because it was being used by black South African children to advocate their right to equal education. That apartheid government imposed a cultural blockade, so to speak, on certain songs, including mine.

Twenty-five years later, in 2005, Palestinian children participating in a West Bank festival used the song to protest against Israel’s wall around the West Bank. They sang: “We don’t need no occupation! We don’t need no racist wall!” At the time, I hadn’t seen firsthand what they were singing about.

A year later I was contracted to perform in Tel Aviv. Palestinians from a movement advocating an academic and cultural boycott of Israel urged me to reconsider. I had already spoken out against the wall, but I was unsure whether a cultural boycott was the right way to go.

The Palestinian advocates of a boycott asked that I visit the occupied Palestinian territory to see the wall for myself before I made up my mind. I agreed.

Under the protection of the United Nations I visited Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw that day. The wall is an appalling edifice to behold. It is policed by young Israeli soldiers who treated me, a casual observer from another world, with disdainful aggression.

If it could be like that for me, a foreigner, a visitor, imagine what it must be like for the Palestinians, for the underclass, for the passbook carriers. I knew then that my conscience would not allow me to walk away from that wall, from the fate of the Palestinians I met: people whose lives are crushed daily by Israel’s occupation. In solidarity, and somewhat impotently, I wrote on their wall that day: “We don’t need no thought control.”

Realising at that point that my presence on a Tel Aviv stage would inadvertently legitimise the oppression I had seen, I cancelled my gig at the stadium in Tel Aviv and moved it to Neve Shalom, an agricultural community devoted to growing chick peas and also, admirably, to co-operation between different faiths, where Muslim, Christian and Jew work side by side in harmony.

Against all expectations it was to become the biggest music event in the short history of Israel. Some 60,000 fans battled traffic jams to attend. It was extraordinarily moving for us, and at the end of the gig I was moved to exhort the young people gathered there to demand of their government that they attempt to make peace with their neighbours and respect the civil rights of Palestinians living in Israel.

Sadly, in the intervening years the Israeli government has made no attempt to implement legislation that would grant rights to Israeli Arabs equal to those enjoyed by Israeli Jews, and the wall has grown, inexorably, illegally annexing more and more of the West Bank.

For the people of Gaza, locked in a virtual prison behind the wall of Israel’s illegal blockade, it means another set of injustices. It means that children go to sleep hungry, many chronically malnourished. It means that fathers and mothers, unable to work in a decimated economy, have no means to support their families. It means that university students with scholarships to study abroad must watch the opportunity of a lifetime slip away because they are not allowed to travel.

In my view, the abhorrent and draconian control that Israel wields over the besieged Palestinians in Gaza and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), coupled with its denial of therights of refugees to return to their homes in Israel, demands that fair-minded people around the world support the Palestinians in their civil, nonviolent resistance.

Where governments refuse to act people must, with whatever peaceful means are at their disposal. For me this means declaring an intention to stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s policies, by joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel.

My conviction is born in the idea that all people deserve basic human rights. This is not an attack on the people of Israel. This is, however, a plea to my colleagues in the music industry, and also to artists in other disciplines, to join this cultural boycott.

Artists were right to refuse to play in South Africa’s Sun City resort until apartheid fell and white people and black people enjoyed equal rights. And we are right to refuse to play in Israel until the day comes – and it surely will come – when the wall of occupation falls and Palestinians live alongside Israelis in the peace, freedom, justice and dignity that they all deserve.

Really Easy Hummus Recipe: “It Is Palestinian!” 06/03/2012

Posted by vegetariancooking in Hummus.
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  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (depending on taste)
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for garnish)


Blend chickpeas and liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients (except olive oil) in blender or food processor. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth. You may need to pulse the blender to get a good mix.  If the mixture is too thick, push down and then reblend the hummus as needed , turning the blender off and on until well blended.
Place in serving bowl, pour the olive oil over the hummus for garnish.  For a party, sprinkle paprika and chopped parsley over the hummus and oil.  Place a few unblended chick peas on top for a special touch (optional).
Keeps well in the refrigerator.
*Remember to BOYCOTT Sabra and Tribe Hummus, make it yourself!