20 Traditional Palestinian Food Dishes

Palestine dishes are influenced by diverse cultural civilizations and regional variations, highlighting rice, wheat, and meat, and distinctive desserts for holidays.

Lastest Updated April 22, 2024
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Basic Information

Palestine Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Meat (lamb, chicken, goat, beef), legumes, rice, vegetables, spices, and herb

Common Cooking Methods

Roasting, baking, frying


Appetizer (meze), main course, dessert


Breakfast (often light), the main meal at lunch, and dinner.

Key Taste

Savory, sweet

Eating Etiquette

Eating with the right hand is common; meals are often communal.

Meal Presentation

Dishes are often served family-style, with shared platters for groups.

Culinary Festivals

Religious festivals (Ramadan, Eid, etc.)

Influence and Fusion

Influences from various cultures like Canaanites, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Lebanese.
Origin and Region

Palestine Food: Origin and Region



Cuisine’s Geographical Territory

West Asia
Palestinian Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of Palestine Food

  • Rice Dishes

    Palestinian rice dishes showcase the region’s agricultural heritage and cultural richness.

    They typically include rice enriched with meats, vegetables, legumes, nuts, herbs and spices.

    These rice dishes are traditionally prepared through layering, simmering, steaming, and sometimes baking.

    They are also central to festive occasions and family gatherings.

  • Salads

    These salads highlight the use of fresh produce, primarily featuring tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and leafy greens, often accentuated with herbs like mint and parsley.

    They are typically dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, embodying the simplicity of Mediterranean cuisine.

  • Bread and Doughs

    Bread and dough-based dishes in Palestine are fundamental, often made from basic ingredients like wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt.

    Traditional baking methods include using a taboon (clay oven) or saj (domed iron griddle), infusing the bread with a distinct, smoky flavor.

  • Vegetarian Dishes

    These dishes normally include legumes, grains, and a wide array of vegetables like eggplants, tomatoes, and leafy greens, seasoned with an aromatic blend of herbs and spices.

    Rooted in the region’s agricultural abundance and dietary traditions, they reflect a culinary culture that values freshness and nutrition.

  • Desserts

    Palestinian desserts are renowned for their rich flavors and textures. Common ingredients are dates, nuts, semolina, and honey.

    These sweets are typically infused with aromatic spices like cinnamon and cardamom. Some are often soaked in sweet syrups.

    They are also ideal treats to celebrate hospitality and festivity.

Palestinian dishes are renowned dishes enjoyed by people in Palestine and even in nearby countries like Jordan and Israel. These delicacies are the result of combining many cultural civilizations that appeared in the country during and after the Islamic era.

Additionally, the foods of Palestine are a part of a greater picture, specifically when they belong to the family of dishes of Levantine, with many regional cuisines.

In general, Ottoman cuisine, which is now represented by Turkish delicacies, and the specialities from Lebanon play an important role in the formation of Palestinian cuisine.

Galilee, West Bank, and Gaza are three distinct cuisines in Palestine, each favoring different ingredients or cooking techniques. Also, rice and wheat are prized elements used to prepare dishes along with meat.

Interestingly, the cooking styles and ingredients used in Palestine also depend on the regional climate and location. Plus, Palestine cuisine houses many dessert treats that often appear on holiday occasions.

As you read on, I’ll reveal the key aspects of traditional Palestine food, highlighting its global presence and nutritious qualities. Following that, you get the chance to uncover 20 popular recipes with all the interesting facts about them.

Don’t forget to check out several factors that influence Palestinian dishes.

The following are essential features that characterize traditional Palestinian food culture:

  • Regional Variation: Palestine has various regions like the Galilee, West Bank, and Gaza. The Galilee, for instance, is known for dishes combining bulgur, spices, and meat, while Gaza’s cuisine has a lot of seafood and spicy dishes​​​​.
  • Staples: Common ingredients include olive oil, olives, beans, legumes, yogurt, seasonal vegetables, meats and fish. These staples reflect the agricultural lifestyle and the diverse climates of the region, from the Mediterranean to the desert​​.
  • Cultural and Social Significance: Food is essential in celebrations, weddings, and daily family gatherings​​.

The global popularity of Palestinian food is on the rise, marked by an increasing presence of Palestinian restaurants and chefs in the world.

Books on Palestinian cuisine, culinary events, and online platforms play a significant role in spreading awareness.

These are the main elements that show you why Palestinian cuisine is considered healthy:

  • Fresh Produce: The agricultural economy of Palestine ensures an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet, contributing to a high intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber​​.
  • Proteins and Healthy Fats: Nuts, legumes, and dips, such as hummus, are commonly eaten. These foods are good sources of proteins and heart-healthy fats.
  • Olive Oil: This oil is used generously, bringing benefits such as antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats.

Next, follow me to unveil 20 beloved delights of Palestine.

20 Popular Palestinian Dishes with Filters

By exploring 20 celebrated Palestinian delicacies, you can broaden your culinary horizons and discover this underrated cuisine.

Filters such as ingredients, taste, cooking methods, dish types, and more, are available to enhance your exploration.

Don’t forget to take a quick look at the groups below to get some information about the most famous, national, traditional, and street food offerings, as well as exotic and fusion dishes.

  • Palestinian cuisine has some popular dishes known both within the region and internationally. Highlights include hummus, falafel, musakhan, and maqluba.
  • They are rich in flavors, often featuring a harmonious blend of spices, legumes, vegetables, and meats.

They are national symbols in cuisine, showcasing t Palestinian hospitality and culinary pride.

  • The traditional dishes of Palestine reflect the land’s historical, geographical, and cultural factors.
  • They can be olive oil-rich tabbouleh to the hearty stews and savory pastries.

Palestinian street food will surprise you with its flavorful and spicy snacks and sweet treats that have been enjoyed for generations.

The cuisine also boasts exotic dishes that incorporate special ingredients and preparation methods. For example, maftoul, a Palestinian variant of couscous.

These fusion creations might combine elements of Middle Eastern and Western cuisines, presenting a contemporary twist on age-old recipes.

Musakhan Sumac Chicken


  • National
  • Traditional

Musakhan is a beloved chicken dish in Palestine featuring roasted chicken combined with onions, sumac, allspice, saffron, and fried pine nuts, all laid atop taboon bread.

It’s also considered the national dish of the country. Known in Arabic as ‘muhammar’, which translates to ‘reddish’, this dish traces its roots back to the Tulkarm and Jenin regions of Palestine.

Traditionally, musakhan is consumed using one’s hands, with the chicken placed over the bread. Often accompanied by soup, musakhan is a customary meal relished during family gatherings and special events.

Maqluba Traditional


  • National
  • Traditional

Maqluba is one of the most sought-after dishes for many in Palestine. Its name literally means “upside-down”, which refers to how local people serve the dish. Besides Palestine, it’s also a unique dish of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.

This ideal Palestinian lunch option includes rice and veggies (typically potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower), spices, and meat such as lamb or chicken. All components are placed in a copper pot with the meat at the bottom, followed by the veggies and rice.

For serving, local Palestinians will turn the copper pot upside down to dump out all the content. A nice tip is to enjoy maqluba with a cucumber tomato salad and yogurt on the side.

Hummus Olive


  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Hummus is a widely cherished chickpea-based dish. Originating from the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, the dipping dish goes back to ancient Egypt; it was first documented in the 13th century.

Integral to Palestinian cuisine and culture, hummus complements various dishes. Moreover, it stands as a symbol of Palestinian identity and resistance, particularly during the First Intifada.

Falafel Crispy Chickpeas


  • Fusion
  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Falafel is a widely cherished dish in Palestine, consisting of deep-fried balls or patties made of chickpeas, fava beans, or a combination of both, seasoned with various spices and herbs.

Originating from ancient Egypt, this traditional dish was embraced by Syrian and Egyptian Jews and later by early Jewish settlers in Palestine. Typically, people pair falafel in pita or flatbread and are accompanied by salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and tahini-based dressings.

Also, falafel is a great stand-alone dish as a snack or feature in a meze. Plus, falafel represents Palestinian identity and culture and is a favored choice among Arab Christians during Lent.

Palestinian Dishes Fattoush


  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Fattoush is a popular salad in Palestine, a part of the Levantine, that features toasted or fried pieces of Arabic flatbread combined with mixed greens and assorted vegetables.

The name “Fattoush” stems from the Arabic word “fatt,” which means “crush,” and the Turkic suffix “-ush,” suggesting a bread-based dish. This salad is part of the “fattat” family of dishes that ingeniously incorporate stale flatbread.

What sets fattoush apart is its tangy flavor, attributed to sumac, a spice derived from dried and ground berries, and occasionally, the addition of pomegranate molasses, lending a sweet depth to the dish.

Knafeh Sweet Cheese


  • Traditional

Knafeh is a traditional Palestinian dessert, a popular treat made from semolina dough enriched with a butter filling and delicate white cheese. Its uniqueness lies in the caramelized honey syrup layer that differentiates it from other pastries.

Hailing from Nablus, the dessert is elevated when adorned with pistachios and served warm, offering a harmonious blend of richness and sweetness, softness and crunch in every bite.

Aside from Palestine, knafeh enjoys popularity in Libya, Egypt, Syria, and other Middle Eastern, Balkan, and North African nations, where it’s known by various names like Kanafeh, Kunafeh, or Konafi.

Taboon Palestinian Flarbreads

Taboon Bread

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Taboon is a Palestine flatbread traditionally baked in a clay oven, also named taboon or tannur. Central to Palestinian cuisine, it’s customarily baked on a bed of hot stones and serves as the foundation for musakhan.

It’s a staple at bakeries and food stalls, frequently used to envelop shawarma and other delicacies. This national dish of Palestine, often available in the country, is served folded with a filling mixture of spinach and onion. Plus, these flatbreads are important in the communal scene of Palestinian women.

Mujadara Lentils


  • Traditional

Mujaddara is a rice dish particularly popular in Palestine and throughout the Middle East. Comprising cooked lentils combined with rice or bulgur, it’s adorned with sautéed onions.

Renowned for its simplicity, mujaddara is often seasoned with spices like cumin and coriander. Palestinians typically prepare mujaddara with olive oil and onion strips, pairing it with local milk yogurt and a refreshing green salad.

Maftoul Palestinian Couscous


  • Traditional

Maftoul is a well-known Palestinian specialty, made of bulgur instead of durum wheat, often called “giant couscous”. Traditionally, Palestinians, particularly rural women, take pride in preparing maftoul.

The process typically involves sautéing chopped onions and peppers, which are then simmered in a flavorful broth, with warm spices added to enhance its depth and richness.

When serving this wheat-based delicacy, it’s common to pour a savory soup over roasted bone-in chicken or tender chunks of beef and lamb.

Mansaf Yogurt Rice


  • National
  • Traditional

Mansaf is an immensely popular delight in Palestine, with Palestinians often relishing the dish by gathering around a table, having their left hand tucked behind their backs.

Originally, mansaf was believed to be made of meat, typically lamb or camel, combined with meat broth or ghee and served with bread. However, after its rise to fame in Jordan during the 1920s, white rice became a staple ingredient.

This iconic dish layers rice with roasted lamb slices fermented in yogurt. The name “Mansaf” translates to “huge dish” or “big tray”, indicating its presence at grand gatherings, from weddings to funerals.

Shish Barak

Shish Barak

  • Traditional

Shish barak, or joshpara, is a popular dumpling prevalent in Palestine, which is a product made from unleavened wheat dough.

These dumplings are generously filled with ground meat and various condiments. Once prepared, they are boiled in water or meat broth for serving in a clear soup or a standalone dish, often accompanied by vinegar or sauce.

In Palestine, it’s traditionally cooked in yogurt and served piping hot in its flavorful sauce, making it a favored dish, especially during the chilly winter months.

Qatayef Folded Pancakes


  • Fusion
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Qatayef is a favorite dessert of Palestine, often resembling sweet dumplings or folded pancakes, traditionally filled with cream, nuts, cheese, or other delights. Predominantly served during Ramadan, its roots trace back to Egypt during the Fatimid dynasty.

In Palestinian culture, qatayef is typically crafted from chickpea flour and filled with akkawi cheese, crushed walnuts, or pistachios. These treats are deep-fried, baked, or enjoyed fresh, often drizzled with aromatic syrup or honey.

Both street vendors and households in Palestine and across the Middle East consider qatayef a staple during festive times.

Freekeh Green Wheat


  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Freekeh is a renowned staple in Palestinian cuisine, characterized by its green durum wheat grains that exude a unique smoky flavor. While it’s often paired with meat, the main highlight is the freekeh wheat itself.

This grain not only boasts a signature smoky and savory profile but is also packed with nutrients. To savor Freekeh in authentic Palestinian style, use the mahshi technique, which involves mixing the grains with herbs and stuffing them into aubergines and vine leaves.

While traditionally enjoyed with chicken, a vegan rendition lets freekeh shine even more, making it the centerpiece of the meal. Alternatively, Palestinians like adding elements like lamb, raisins, dried cherry plums, or nuts to introduce many flavors to the freekeh.

Makdous Cured Eggplants


  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Makdous is a well-received dish in Palestine. It consists of miniature, tangy eggplants filled with a flavorful mix of walnuts, red pepper, garlic, and salt, all preserved in olive oil.

Some variations of this Levantine creation also incorporate chili powder to add an extra kick of spice.

Ghraybeh Cookies


  • Fusion
  • Traditional

Ghraybeh is a treasured shortbread cookie in Palestine made with ground almonds. Local Palestinians enjoyed these cookies as a special childhood treat.

In addition, visitors often receive these cookies as a gift during Ramadan and Eid. Aside from the familiar round cookies, locals form different shapes, like an S, to make ghraybeh more appealing.

Ma’amoul Cookies


  • Fusion
  • Traditional

Ma’amoul is renowned as a delectable date-filling treat in Palestine. Basically, ma’amoul are butter cookies made from flour and filled with dried fruits such as figs, dates, walnuts, or almonds.

These Middle Eastern shortbread pastries come in various forms, from round to crescent, shaped according to the makers. Traditionally, artisans hand-decorate these cookies or craft them using ‘tabe’, specialized wooden molds.

Qizha Black


  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Qizha is a popular Palestinian black seed paste made from crushed nigella seeds. Besides the main pungent and harsh flavor, the treat has hints of sweetness and a minty, oniony aftertaste.

Also, qizha pairs well with other condiments like tahini or baked into pies and pastries. Surprisingly, the elderly in Palestine often consume a scoop of this Nablus specialty every day to avoid illness.



  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Mulukhiyah is a Palestinian dish derived from the leaves of Corchorus olitorius, a plant also utilized for fiber production. Predominantly consumed in the Levant, including Palestine, it’s also a staple in various Middle Eastern and North African regions.

The Levantine preparation method distinguishes mulukhiyah from the Egyptian style. In the Levant, meat is cooked separately and then combined with garlic, water, and chicken stock cubes to create a rich broth.

The molokhia leaves are subsequently added and simmered for an additional 15 minutes. This flavorful dish is traditionally paired with white rice and complemented by a squeeze of fresh lemon.



  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Nabulsi is a Palestinian white-brined cheese originating from the city of Nablus.

It stands as one of the most popularly consumed cheeses in the country, along with Jordan. Made from sheep’s or goat’s milk, nabulsi is distinctively flavored with mahleb and mastic.

The cheese presents as white, rectangular, and semi-hard, becoming elastic when heated. Nabulsi is usually savored fresh, fried, or as a key ingredient in knafeh, a renowned Middle Eastern dessert.

Qidreh Chickpeas


  • Traditional

Qidreh is a Palestinian meat dish originating from Hebron, the second holiest city in the country after Jerusalem.

This favorite dish combines meat, often lamb and chicken, with chickpeas and rice. Its distinctiveness lies in its aromatic and spicy broth, enriched with spices like cumin, allspice, and turmeric.

The authentic preparation of qidreh involves using a large copper or brass pot and cooking it in a communal wood-fired oven, imparting a unique flavor to the dish.

Qidreh is especially cherished during holidays like Ramadan and Eid. Plus, people also serve qidreh alongside Arabic salad and plain yogurt.

What Are the Influences on Palestinian Dishes?

Below are seven main impacts on the specialties of Palestine.

  • Historical Roots: Palestinian cuisine is a rich blend of ancient traditions and cultural influences, deeply tied to early agricultural practices.
  • Agricultural Foundations: The cultivation of olives, lentils, chickpeas, barley, and wheat laid the groundwork for the cuisine’s development.
  • Cultural Influences: Culinary traditions were shaped by interactions with Canaanites, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Lebanese cultures.
  • Islamic and Arab Contributions: The 7th-century Arab and Islamic conquests introduced new staples and spices, such as rice, spinach, aubergine, cumin, and cardamom.
  • Ottoman Impact: The Ottoman Empire influenced Palestinian cuisine by introducing stuffed vegetables and popularizing Turkish coffee.
  • Ingredient Focus: The cuisine centers around plant-based ingredients, with rice, lentils, and chickpeas as staples, and meat typically reserved for special occasions.
  • Evolution and Diversity: Palestinian cuisine continues to embrace modern trends while maintaining its traditional core, offering regional variations from the West Bank’s heavier meats and bread to Gaza’s diverse fish, spices, and pastries.

Lastly, do these food offerings of Palestine excite your taste buds? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Make sure to let others know about these dishes, and keep following me to explore more amazing Central Asian dishes!

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

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