If you are after a quick snack, look out for one of the widespread sweet corn carts. Serving up cups of hot, buttered, salty and spiced corn, or a simple corn on the cob, these carts are found in every Palestinian city and offer a quick fix for hungry travelers. Costing only a handful of shekels, these are also a budget-friendly option, sure to hit the sweet (corn) spot.
Ka’ak usually refers to a biscuit like bread which is truly versatile and can be made as a regular bread, stuffed to become a savoury option or dipped in honey or jam to become a sweet breakfast option. It is one of those dishes sold all over the streets of Palestine and is very close to pita bread, but with the addition of yoghurt and milk and is cooked in a hot oven to create a pocket in the middle.
The most famous Palestinian dessert however, is the ubiquitous kunafeh. Thought to have originated in Nablus, the dish combines pastry, either made of shredded vermicelli noodles or semolina, cooked in butter and covered with mild, stringy cheese, and topped with more pastry. It is served soaked in sweet syrup with a scattering of pistachio nuts. Strange as the combination of vermicelli, syrup and cheese may sound, kunafeh makes for the perfect fusion of rich and sweet, warm, soft and crunchy.
If you are in Nablus, the kunafeh at al-Aqsa in the Old City is famous all over Palestine, look out for the huge, round trays of yellow pastry. Fawanees in Bethlehem and Jaffar Sweets in Jerusalem also make mouth-watering versions.
A lesser-known cousin of falafel, kubbeh, meaning ‘ball’ in Palestinian Arabic, is made of a delicious mixture of ground beef or lamb, bulgar wheat, onions and fragrant middle eastern spices, rolled into a ball and deep fried. Popular all over the Levant, and considered a national dish of Syria and Lebanon – having originated in Aleppo – kubbeh has in fact its own twist in Palestine, for example kubbeh from Nablus is much bigger, and formed of a thick crust of bulgar wheat enveloping a tasty centre of spiced meat.
Often eaten during Ramadan to break the fast, qatayef – or ‘atayef – are mini pancake-style desserts usually filled with cheese or a mixture of nuts, sugar and spices, before being sealed up, fried again, and then doused in sweet syrup.
If you find yourself in Bethlehem during Ramadan, the Mahsiry Qatayef shop on the Hebron Road serves up famously good pancakes. In Nazareth however, you can get your qatayef fix outside of the holy month, at Deran al-Seraya in the Old City.