DUBAI: From US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to real estate developer and father-to-supermodels Mohamed Hadid, prominent Palestinians from around the world have shared their favorite recipe for a new not-for-profit cookbook and fundraising movement.
“Craving Palestine” was created by Lama Bazzari and her 17-year-old daughter Farrah Abuasad and features 100 recipes from Palestinians all over the world. The mother-daughter duo brought Palestinian chef Fadi Kattan on board to help with the fine tuning.
It’s been a labor of love for all three contributors and after 18 months of hard work, it all culminates in the official launch this month.
“This book is a love letter to Palestine — our treasured homeland — and in celebration and preservation of our food, heritage and culture,” Bazzari said.
Recipes have been contributed by celebrities, activists, entrepreneurs, artists and writers; recognizable names include poet Naomi Shihab Nye and author Susan Abulhawa.
It is full of both time-worn recipes and inventive, modern takes on Palestinian cuisine — think tahini creme brulee, lentil croquettes, qidra and yafawi sfeeha.
But this isn’t just a recipe book.
Craving Palestine is a “global fundraising movement,” Kattan explained, that will not only showcase the Palestinian fare to the world, but will also support its development. Full proceeds of all book sales will go to Anera, an NGO that provides education, development and health programs to Palestinian communities across Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan.
“The great thing about this book is that it’s a collaborative work of 100 people who have sent in not only their recipes but their stories,” Kattan said.
“What has the meaning for me in all of this is to show the world the diversity of who Palestinians are.”
Bazzari, who lived in Burqa and Nablus, was drawn to the project due to her background in entrepreneurship and philanthropy. She runs an angel investment fund, as well as micro finance and mentorship programs that foster job creation across refugee camps and impoverished communities. She also works to promote youth development and female empowerment across the MENA region. Her daughter, Abuasad, is a high schooler and a poet — some of her Palestinian-themed poetry pieces are featured in the book.
Kattan, who owns and operates the boutique Hosh Al-Syrian Guesthouse and its celebrated Fawda Cafe in Bethlehem, joined the project after being approached by Bazzar to contribute a recipe. He returned to Palestine from abroad and opened the Hosh complex in 2015 as a way to showcase modern Palestinian cuisine to locals and tourists alike.
Kattan says all three founders “put our forces together” in order to approach well-known Palestinians to contribute to the book and admits he cannot pick a favorite recipe. He has contributed a few and several have come from his staff. Once the recipes had been gathered, Kattan and his team then cooked, authenticated and tested every one of them.
“It was greatly rewarding to cook people’s recipes with all the respect in them. Each of the recipes carries so much, it carries family memories and it carries strong meaning for that person,” he said.
“It’s really all about telling a story.”