This morning I was invited to a tasting. My friend calls me asking to try a Palestinian cuisine she was sure I'd love... But I honestly didn't know that we were going to the camp. It's called Soufra, a homey cuisine prepared by Palestinian ladies the sole purpose of which is to empower them and give them the chance to support their families.
I've been here six years ago and I still remember it like if it was yesterday. The Burj el Barajne Palestinian camp where thousands of refugees live in an unacceptable hygienic situation, houses one over the other, electrical cables next to water pipes... I'm not sure you want to imagine yourself living there; and this is where you thank the Lord for the many gifts you're given in this world.
We walked the streets, passed the buildings and shops along the tight road to reach the UNRWA building. Up in the last floor is Soufra. It's a kitchen and a dining table. Maryam Chaar welcomed us to the dining table where food was already present. Aromas have taken over the space activating each and every one of my senses.
The Palestinian cuisine is close to ours with a different approach. More spices and different textures. The mouhammara is hot, very hot, the mousakhan is extremely juicy and acidic, freekeh is smooth and tender, borghol is as crunchy as it should be and the taste is so intense it put a smile on my face. I was so happy to feel the love and passion in every bite. Those ladies want to make it happen, struggling to survive while doing something they love.
- Mousakhan: Chicken and sumac mixed with a bit of onion wrapped in markouk bread. A light crunch, well toasted, a juicy chicken and the acidity the sumac adds. They're very good.
- Freekeh bags: So yummy, a toasted saj envelope wrapped around the freekeh like a bag. Spiced freekeh, crunchy fried almonds, a chunk of chicken and the bread. I wasn't expecting to eat something that good!
- Mda2da2a: Kebbeh with tomatoes. Small borghol, crunchy like cereals, beautifully spiced and leaving an after note of tomato. Really, that's good, homey Palestinian food.
- Kebbeh Kezzebé (2edré): Yellow turmeric rice with fried beans and meat. It does contain garlic but I really couldn't stop from eating.
- Mouhammara: A mouhammara you've never had before in your life, this intense spiciness, those crunchy walnuts, the richness! Oh my God!
- Manakish onions and tomato: They're well done. The dough is good and not chewy and the filling is as flavorful as it should be.
- Fatayer Zubeih: A homemade dough that's lightly end enjoyably chewy stuffed with wild zaatar zubeih.
Dessert is even better than the food itself. Knefeh Naboulsieh is a mix between knefeh and esmalliyeh. Molten cheese and crispy vermicelli with sugar syrup to add the needed sweetness. It's so lovely, that kind of Knefeh you eat without a kaaka, crunchy and rich with pistachio to decorate it.
Good to know:
- Soufra caters and delivers in Beirut. You can order food to another district but help with the transportation fees.
- The food is reasonable and affordable.
- Tasty, very tasty and surely recommended.
- The Mousakhan and freekeh pockets are a must try.
Life is unfair sometimes... Try their food, you'll be making a difference.
Soufra (+961 71 055330)