This post was written a year ago. I dug it up again, and edited it a bit, to post it this year with more intention.
May 15 marks a turning point in the course of history with massive consequences
It is the day Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes to nowhere
It is when Palestinians started looking for home, a shelter, a roof to stay under. For 68 years, Palestinians are being chased out of their homes and lands, tortured, imprisoned, mistreated, and killed.
Massacres are happening on a regular basis. The world has become so numb. We count numbers. Unless there’s a notable person among those killed, the death toll is meaningless
Photos from Dbayeh Palestinians refugees camp I took last year
As I probably have mentioned in previous posts, I am a 2nd generation Palestinian with a Lebanese nationality. I barely have any sense of belonging to neither. My grandmother used to tell me about how they fled and how they settled in the area that became the refugees camp of Dbayeh, the camp that neither most Palestinians nor Lebanese know about.
The camp started as tents. Then it received an upgrade. Brick and cement walls were introduced with metal sheet ceilings. Some houses were able to build a cement ceiling later on, others still have the same old metal sheet, or concrete sheets as an alternative upgrade. The people of this camp suffered a lot, and they still are. From poorly built houses that leak or fall apart to poor support in terms of health and basic necessities.
I still wonder how till now the world is silent, turning a blind eye, and deciding not to see the killings and human rights violations being committed against Palestinians on a daily basis. I do not want to write about it. I will quote what my friend Waseem wrote:
68th memory of the worst and longest ethnic cleansing in recent history. 68 years ago since the Palestinian #AlNakba. 68 years since the Zionist militias in Palestine expelled 80% of Palestinians from their country to create their own state for illegal migrants escaping Europe. 68 years of injustice, of lies, if trying to change facts and history, 68 years of crimes, massacres and suffer, 68 years of hatred by an illegal state called Israel. 68 years since #AlNakba, generation after generation, people will never forget.
It will take me days writing on Facebook the stories I used to hear from my grandparents on how they were forced to leave their cities and villages to other countries and settle as refugees.
Every single Palestinian, by blood or by origin or by refugee documents will always point at this cancer tumor called Israel, and the homeland one day will be freed by those fascist criminals. Regardless how the world look at this, I don’t think we should care.
Never forget, never forgive.
Being born and raised in the UAE, then moving to Lebanon, and knowing that I come from Palestinian grandparents didn’t help in my sense of belonging. I make a home of where I am. Wherever I am. Wherever I go. Wherever I feel comfortable. Now, my home is the camp.
I grew up in this place since I was 10, right after we moved back from UAE, where I was born. This place – the camp – still scares people to this day, giving them chills and second thoughts before stepping in.
To me, it is a village. A small village where people, if you dig enough, are all related and all know the updates of one another. It’s a small community of nosy people where the ones who don’t explore out of it, find the stories of one another interesting enough and worth gossiping about. From my tiny little house, I went out to explore and seek adventure. And from this kitchen, I keep pushing things forward.
I decided to write about this recipe because it is a traditional Paletinian recipe that moved across the Levant. Lebanese have adapted it and it is a very popular recipe now. Mom and I prepared Mashakhan on the night we cooked a Palestinian menu at a gastropub in Hamra. Traditionally, Msakhan, which translates to heated, is made with stale Taboon bread that is wrapped around a whole roast chicken with onions and sumac. The juices from the chicken moistens the bread and makes it more delicious. With time, the recipe evolved into this.
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
- Broth aromatics: carrots, celery, parsley, 1 stick cinnamon, 2 cloves, 2 bay leaves (plus whatever you like to add)
- 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup sumac, or less according to taste
- 1/2 cup oil
- 2 kg onions, thinly sliced
- 3-4 thin bread (Markouk, or traditionally taboon bread)
- Pomegranate molasses for serving
- In a pot that fits a whole chicken, with a lid, cover the chicken in water and add the onion, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, salt & pepper and the rest of the aromatics and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour. Remove the chicken and let it cool. Strain and reserve the broth for a soup, or freeze for later use
- Debone and pull the meat off the chicken and mix with sumac
- In a hot large skillet or wok, stir the oil and sliced onions. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir occasionally until the onions are soft, almost translucent, and slightly starting to caramelize, 10-15 minutes
- Mix the onions with the chicken and sumac
- Roll out the bread and generously add the filling in the middle and roll to a tight wrap
- Brush in olive oil and bake in a heated oven until the bread is slightly crispy. Serve immediately or re-heat to serve later. I like to have it with pomegranate molasses or verjuice molasses (extracted from unripe grapes)