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Haya's Kitchen: Reviving Palestinian Culinary Heritage

Haya's Kitchen on a culinary journey preserving Palestinian traditions
Haya's Kitchen on a culinary journey preserving Palestinian traditions

Haya Bishouty, a Dubai resident and former public relations professional, has been on a mission to preserve Palestinian culinary traditions through her initiative, Haya's Kitchen. Bishouty, whose grandparents are from Palestine, launched Haya's Kitchen three years ago, aiming to educate people about Palestinian food and culture. She hosts regular dinner parties, known as sufras, featuring traditional Palestinian dishes and providing insights into the rich culinary heritage of the region.


Bishouty's journey began with the first sufra in January 2020, where she shared Palestinian delicacies with about 10 guests. Dressed in her grandmother's traditional thobe, Bishouty created a sensory experience that resonated with her guests, evoking memories of their grandmothers' cooking. The positive response encouraged Bishouty to continue her mission of preserving Palestinian culinary traditions.


Haya's Kitchen is more than just a culinary experience; it's a tribute to Bishouty's heritage and a way to connect with the Palestinian culture. While born in Greece and having never visited Palestine, Bishouty's sufras transport her and others to the land of her ancestors for a few precious hours. The dinners not only showcase the diverse and authentic flavors of Palestinian cuisine but also aim to dispel misconceptions, emphasizing the distinctiveness of Palestinian food compared to neighboring cuisines.


Bishouty's commitment goes beyond serving delicious meals. She incorporates storytelling into her sufras, sharing the history and significance of each dish. From the symbolic inclusion of caraway pudding (mughli) to the communal act of eating musakhan with hands, Bishouty ensures that guests not only enjoy the flavors but also understand the cultural context and traditions associated with each dish.


The seasonal aspect of Palestinian food is another crucial element emphasized by Bishouty. She explains the significance of preserving lemon juice during the winter, a practice rooted in Palestinian culinary traditions. Bishouty's dedication to authenticity is evident in her meticulous research, ensuring that the information shared at her sufras is accurate and reflective of Palestinian heritage.


Haya's Kitchen has found a home at The Flip Side in Dubai's Alserkal Avenue, a stylish vinyl record shop owned by Bishouty's husband, Shadi Megallaa. The intimate setting accommodates no more than 14 guests, fostering warm interactions and an immersive experience. Alongside the sufras, Bishouty conducts workshops to teach Palestinian culinary skills, such as rolling vine leaves.


Bishouty's efforts extend to sourcing all her ingredients from Palestinian suppliers, supporting local communities and businesses. Despite the challenges faced by Palestinians every day, Bishouty emphasizes the importance of preserving their food, culture, and identity. Through Haya's Kitchen, she hopes to create awareness and appreciation for Palestinian cuisine, ensuring that it remains an integral part of the cultural tapestry.


In a world moving at a fast pace, Bishouty believes that food connects people and serves as a bridge to understanding diverse cultures. For her, Haya's Kitchen is not just a culinary venture but a celebration of Palestinian heritage that continues to thrive despite the challenges.

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By- Sahiba Suri

By: Sahiba Suri