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Food and Recipes

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Tomatoes in Palestinian cookery
submitted by Sufian Mustafa

Tomato is originally from Peru and was first imported to Spain in the 16th century, but the Syrian Arabs new it from the Italian, hence the name Bandourah, from the Italian Pomodoro. It was the Sicilians who exploited tomatoes as a sauce to blend with pasta having learned to puree it from the Arabs. Until the 18th century tomato was believed to be poisonous, since people with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so tomatoes were considered poisonous. However tomatoes later added a new horizon to cooking, it became the corner stone of many kitchens, and now is the flag of Italian cooking.

Tomatoes make easy to prepare salads with the help of a dressing without the need for any additional product, good salads can also be obtained with the addition of fresh herb leaves, dry onions, spring onion and garlic. A Palestinian dressing is basically made of mixing olive oil with a sour liquid usually lemon juice, pomegranate juice, unripe grape juice, tamarind juice. Alternatively or in addition to sour juices, sweet and sour molasses made of typical Palestinian liquids, beaten tahineh or cream of yogurt are all dressing that add flavour and soften salads.

The fruit in Palestine is used as a raw vegetable to soften dry food such as cheese, labaneh and sandwiches; it is also used in the preparation of dips when pureed, in salads and in cooking as in stuffing or as a vegetable sautés, it is also juiced and made into a drink, soup, or hot sauce. It is dried and stocked in olive oil or pickled when green. Despite the above, tomato can be eliminated from the Palestinian table without even noticing. As a matter of fact, none of historical traditional Palestinian dishes contains tomato.

With all due respect to tomato and all its fans, I have to state that most Palestinian salads contain no tomatoes as more dressings and cold sauces are adapted; the same can be said about dips and appetizers and hot sauces. Have a look at our most popular snacks and dishes: tabbuleh and thyme from salads, mtabbal and humus from dips, kubeh, flafel and fteereh from snacks, and the traditional msakhan, maftool, munsaf, maqlubeh, kufta, green leaves sautés, ect.

Having said that, it is fair to say that over the years tomato was adapted well in the Palestinian kitchen and gave it more strength as did happen with potato.

Source: www.chefsufian.co.uk

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