Palestinians have a cooking style of their own involved in roasting various meats, baking
flat breads and cooking thick yogurt-like pastes from goat milk.
Musakhan is a common main dish, famous in the Jerusalem
and northern West Bank area. Its main component is Taboon bread that is topped with pieces of cooked sweet onions, sumac, saffron and allspice. For large dinners it can be topped by one or two roasted chickens on a single large Taboon bread.
Maqluba is another popular meal in central Palestine. Maqluba is a upside-down rice and baked eggplant casserole mixed with cooked cauliflower, carrots and chicken or lamb.
Mujaddara another food of the West Bank as well as in the Levant in general, consists of cooked green lentils with bulgar sauteed with olive oil.
Mansaf is a traditional meal of the West Bank having roots from the Bedouin population of Jordan and the Judea. It is mostly cooked on occasions such as Eid, a birth or a large dinner gathering. Mansaf is cooked as a lamb leg or large pieces of lamb on top a markook bread that has been topped with yellow rice usually. A type of thick dried cheesecloth yogurt from goat’s milk thats called jameed is poured on top of the lamb and rice to give it its distinct flavor and taste. The dish is garnished with cooked pine nuts and almonds.
Palestinians bake a variety of different kinds of breads the primary ones are pita, markook
and Taboon. There are several diverse types of sandwich-like foods eaten in Palestine, they include manaeesh, sfiha, fetire and shawarma. Manaeesh is a baked Taboon bread usually
topped with za’atar and olive oil. It is considered the Middle Eastern pizza and eaten primarily during breakfast. Popular all day meals include simbose and fetire. They are baked or sometimes fried doughs stuffed with beef and cooked pine nuts. Sfiha is a baked flat bread that is usually topped with lamb and cooked red peppers or tomatoes. Shawarma is a very common dish with the Palestinians of the Galilee as well as the West Bank.
It is mostly served in a long folded roll of markook bread wrapped around shaved lamb or chicken accompanied by pickled turnips, pickled cucumbers, tomatoes and tahina sauce. Markook bread is a paper-thin flatbread and when unfolded it is almost transparent. Shawarma could also be served as lamb slices on a plate with tahina as a sidedish.
The most famous desserts of Palestine as a whole are baklawa, halwa, milatete, kanafeh, harese, ma’amoul and other semolina and wheat pastries. Baklawa is an array of pastries made of thin sheets of unleavened flour dough, filled with pistachios and walnuts sweetened by honey. Halwa or halawa is a block confection of sweetened sesame flour
served by sliced pieces. Ma’amoul is a semolina shortbread pastry filled with
ground dates or pistachios. It is sometimes a religious food in Palestine and the Levant,
eaten traditionally at daybreak during Ramadan and the feast of Eid al-Fitr.
Milatete is baked dough flavored with sweet spices and sesame seeds. It is eaten regularly because it is quick and easy to make. Kanafeh is probably one of the most popular desserts of Palestine and the Levant. The West Bank city of Nablus is home of the
most famous kanafeh in the Arab world because of its traditional white-brined
cheese that is known as Nabulsi cheese. It is made of several fine shreds of
pastry noodles with honey-sweetened cheese in the center. The top layers of the
pastry is usually colored orange with food coloring and sprinkled with crushed
pistachios. Boiled sugar used as a syrup for kanafeh. Harese is a thick pastry
candied with honey and boiled sugar.
It is quite typical for an array of nuts, seeds, dates and dried fruits are offered
and served by Palestinian hosts and considered a given necessity for guests.
Roasted and salted watermelon, squash and sunflower seeds as well as pistachios
and cashews are of the most common. Watermelon seeds or bizir al-bateekh are
eaten regularly by Palestinians during several of their popular leisurely
activities whether they be playing cards, smoking, conversing with friends or
before and after a meal. A wide variety of fresh and dried fruits including
dates are also offered by hosts as a welcoming gesture to guests. Honey-glazed
sesame seed clusters and pistachio nougats are very popular candies among
Palestinians. Candies similar if not identical to Turkish delight also frequent
the cravings of Palestinian people.
A widely consumed liquor by Palestinians is Arak.
Arak is a clear anise flavored alcoholic drink that is mixed with water to soften it and give
it a creamy white color. It is consumed during special occasions such as holidays, weddings, and gatherings or with the mezze. The Palestinian town of Taybeh in the West Bank contains the only beer brewery in the Palestinian Territories. Beer is another widely
consumed drink especially amongst the Christian population. The brewery also
produces non-alcoholic beer for conservative Muslims.