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Aida Kattan (1): The taboun

Contributed by Spirit Of Sumud Tourism Program on 28.08.2009:

Aida Kattan is a teacher from Beit Jala.

The taboun is the Palestinian oven.

How to warm or lighten up the taboun for preparing the bread?

The taboun, which is outside the house, is made from mud. Inside are small stones, called radif. The oven is made round from inside. You close the taboun from above like a pan. You have to close it with a cover. Then you put on top of it the jiffit, the remainders of the olives after it is separated from the oil, and in addition some pieces of wood. The fire is outside the oven.

Three times a day it needs to get warmed up. When you bake for the first time in the taboun, you have to put zibl for two days to make it very warm. Afterward you open the door, and you put big flat loaves of dough in it. You put the dough on the stones, maybe six or seven loafs, then close the opening. You have to turn them while preparing, on the stones. The woman will talk with the neighbors or do other things, and then after five or ten minutes the bread is ready. From under and above. They put the bread on a tray. You can put another six or seven. The woman might make 20 or 30 loafs. She takes the bread and goes home. Her neighbor comes back to close the tabboun and put another time the zibl and jifit. After four or five hours the tabboun is ready.

In the past everything in the household took time, the tabboun, the washing, the food. Half of her day the woman was busy with the taboun, making it hot. Now you go to the supermarket and take back the bread. But taboun bread is something special. You smell it from ten meters. The fire, the remainders of the olives, that all created this special smell of the bread. It was zaki, delicious.

You make bread in the taboun, but also meat, vegetables or chicken. You take a small plate to put in the opening of the tabboun. You put in it chicken, kussa, tomatoes, potatoes, and then put it on top of the stones because the taboun is hot from inside. The food is ready after half an hour.


December 2008

Interviewer: Toine van Teeffelen

For more information about Aida Kattan’s work, see her website

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