Palestinian national dish fuels Al-Aqsa protests

A Palestinian woman prepares maqlouba at her home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber

A Palestinian woman prepares maqluba at her home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, Aug 21, 2017. (photo: Ammar Awad / Reuters)

Maqluba, the beloved traditional Palestinian dish, has become a tradition of the protests in Jerusalem and elsewhere, reinforcing Palestinian community and solidarity.

By Ahmad Melhem | Al-Monitor | Jan 11, 2018


“During the sit-in against Trump’s decision at the Damascus Gate, I made sure to serve maqluba, a popular Palestinian national dish, to the young protesters as a way to underline that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, with all its people, food and culture. People are now keen to have maqluba every week with their families in Al-Aqsa’s squares as a kind of tradition and custom to guard the mosque. . . . The true maqluba is not made with rice, chicken and vegetables but with steadfastness, persistence and perseverance and with shouts and cheers when flipped upside down.”


While hundreds of demonstrators shouted slogans on Dec 11 against US President Donald Trump in front of the Damascus Gate, one of the main entrances to Al-Aqsa, Khadija Khweis and her friend Hanadi al-Halawani were flipping pots of maqluba to serve to the protesters. In the last 12 months, this traditional food, also called the “dish of victory,” has become a part of the Palestinian protests.

Every Sunday throughout December, when people of Jerusalem held demonstrations to protest Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, they would bring large pots of maqluba, which literally means “upside down” in Arabic, and eat it under the eyes of the Israeli police. The flipping of the pots as the cooks shouted “Allahu Akbar” became a ritual, and the dish also came to be called by both the Palestinians and the Israelis as the “dish of spite.”

Halawani told Al-Monitor, “During the sit-in against Trump’s decision at the Damascus Gate, I made sure to serve maqluba, a popular Palestinian national dish, to the young protesters as a way to underline that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, with all its people, food and culture. People are now keen to have maqluba every week with their families in Al-Aqsa’s squares as a kind of tradition and custom to guard the mosque.”

Maqluba is very popular among Palestinian housewives, as it is an easy way to cook a complete meal with meat, rice and vegetables. Meat is placed at the bottom of a pot. Then a layer of vegetables, often diced eggplant, for which the dish is also called “bazenjaniyah,” “bazenjan” being Arabic for eggplant. The final layer is rice perfumed with spices. All of this is cooked on a stove. Before serving, the pot is flipped over so that the rice is at the bottom. It is served with yoghurt or a salad on the side. On the Palestinian coast, fish is used instead of chicken or red meat, and onions replace eggplant. There, the dish is called fish maqluba or sayadiyah.

According to popular accounts, when Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, conquered Jerusalem in 1187, Jerusalemites served the dish to him and his soldiers. In the local stories, it was Saladin who renamed what was then called bazenjaniyah as maqluba.

Read the full article here →

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