Chef and writer Dima Al Sharif has launched her first cookbook titled ‘Plated Heirlooms’.
The 500-page book explores Al Sharif’s native Falasteen (Palestine) and its culinary history through generations of Palestinian cooking.
To celebrate her literary debut, Al Sharif hosted a pop-up restaurant in Mojo Gallery where guests enjoyed an eight-course degustation menu inspired by each chapter in the book, and set against an exhibition of Palestinian food photography and Al Sharif’s family heirlooms.
“For me food is an expression of culture and is intrinsically influenced by an appreciation of the land from which it was yielded,” said Al Sharif.
“Palestine is such a fertile country with a rich and complex history, and its culinary culture reflects this. Food is respected, nothing is wasted and you can tell from which region a family comes by the flavor profile of its musakhan.”
Al Sharif grew up as part of the Palestinian diaspora in Jordan and her family owned the first and largest citrus farms in Jordan. She later became a professional chef.
She spent three years researching and drafting the book, and each of the 250 recipes is inspired by a family story, and each has been tested by Al Sharif for technical accuracy.
In eight chapters Al Sharif explores traditional Palestinian cuisine and cooking techniques, as well as some of the country’s native ingredients.
There is a section devoted to the olive tree and its fruits, while the book’s most extensive chapter looks at the tradition of mooneh (Arabic for pantry), the tradition of pickling and preserving seasonal foods for the months when they are not available.
“Palestinian cuisine is the least known of all the Middle Eastern cuisines. It has suffered from decades of occupation and the diaspora, the uprooting of olive trees and the mass destruction of farms.
“Yet, Palestinian cuisine, culture and community will always live on in the hearts of their people, wherever they are. Ultimately, food grows from the community and culture exists as plated heirlooms,” Al Sharif adds.
Plated Heirlooms is now available for purchase at Kinokuniya and The Change Initiative and will be available in all good bookstores in the UAE from March 2016.
Signed copies of the book will also be available at Al Sharif’s Mooneh stand every Friday at The Farmers’ Market on The Terrace, Bay Avenue, Business Bay.