Bethlehem Cultural Festival

Cooking in Bethlehem and Gaza

Manal Odeh, Amal Mukheirez and Rana Musallam

Join Manal Odeh in Bethlehem and Amal Mukheirez and Rana Musallam in Gaza who will be with Xanthe Clay, the Telegraph food editor cooking Maqlouba, the traditional Palestinian upside-down dish. If you would like to cook with them from your own kitchens, please find the list of ingredients below as well as a few preparations that you can do before the class..

Please find ingredients below is you would like to join us:

The ingredients needed for Maqluba:

  • 150 g long grain rice
  • 1 medium aubergine thinly sliced into rounds
  • Vegetable oil “for frying the aubergine slices before cooking”
  • 1 small onion 
  • 3 large garlic cloves, halved
  • 2 chicken thighs “any part of chicken”
  • ½ ground allspices
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1-litre water “to boil the chicken part in it” 
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly slices

To prepare before the session…

You must first cook the chicken and fry the aubergine slices before starting to cook the maqluba, soak the rice for 20 min before cooking it. 

Manal Odeh

Manal Odeh

Manal Odeh is co-author of the cookbook Bethlehem; Beautiful Resistance Recipes and is Head of the Women’s and Education Unit at Alrowwad Centre for Arts and Culture in Aida refugee camp, Bethlehem. 

After attending high school in Dubai, Manal studied at university in Jordan where she gained a degree in applied mathematics in 1998. She was born to Palestinian parents In the UAE where she spent the first 23 years of her life.

In 1984 Manal and her family took the opportunity to return to their homeland. This was the first time Manal had visited Palestine. During the trip the family were able to tour a lot of the country.But by 2000 when Manal got married to her husband in Bethlehem and returned to live there, she found she could no longer visit those areas the family had seen 16 years previously. A concrete wall had been constructed which she could not pass beyond to visit Jerusalem and her ancestral village and lands.

While raising her four children Manal started to think about how she could make a difference to the community she was now living. After ten years of volunteering with Alrowwad she took on the job of coordinator of the women’s unit. Her work is largely with the mothers of Aida refugee giving them opportunities to build a career through various workshops and activities.

Rana Musallam

Rana Musallam

Rana Musallam was born in Gaza/Ramallah before Gaza in a time when it was possible to travel between the West Bank and Gaza freely.

Since 2000 Rana has been teaching in UNRWA schools in Gaza with a focus on self-development and finding new strategies in education. Rana has been enrolled in several training courses with the British Council and consequently has been able to train other Gazan teachers. She has shown her excellence in Hands Up Project (a UK based charity) competitions when she, with her students participated and won two competitions from among a large number of Palestinian schools. Rana is very active globally by connecting with other international teachers outside Palestine. She believes in the potential of her students by guiding them and encouraging them to improve their talents.

Rana is a mother of five and a fabulous cook. She particularly loves baking traditional Palestinian cakes and sweets – makruta and ma’amul are her speciality.

Amal Mukheirez

Amal Mukheirez

Amal was born on a very cold, rainy day in Libya which she explains why she loves the winter and rainy days. She grew up, with two sisters and two brothers, in Saudi Arabia. Her mother was a stickler for house rules and would say, “One day, you’ll understand”. She does understand now and has established the same rules for her five children.

She lives in Gaza, Palestine and works as a teacher of English as a second language. She is passionate about teaching through drama, believing it is a wonderful tool for learning English in a memorable and spontaneous way and is a way to fight the siege that has been imposed on Gaza for more than thirteen years. In 2018, she participated with her students in the play-writing competition run by the Hands Up Project (HUP – a UK charity) winning first place and travelling to the UK to perform their play at the HUP conference and in many UK schools.

Cooking is her main hobby and has been for several years. “It is not a chore because it is what I love to do to de-stress. It is something I inherited from my mother and my grandmother. My favourite things to cook are; Dawali, Hummos, Falafel and Summageya. A few months ago, I joined the Virtual Coffee Morning sessions with Melissa, Manal, Jordan and Rana. We meet friends from all over the world and we cook many Palestinian traditional dishes with Manal. We lose ourselves in the rituals of chopping, stirring, smelling and tasting while talking and laughing together. It is a virtual adventure that everyone is waiting for every week.

Xanthe Clay

Xanthe Clay

Xanthe Clay has written a weekly column for The Telegraph for 21years, writing about cookery, restaurants and food issues. She also contributes to other publications including delicious. magazine, and has written five books, the latest of which is The Contented Cook. President of the Guild of Food Writers 2015-2019, she is currently Academy Chair (UK and Ireland) for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Trustee of the Andre Simon Awards.