Whenever I am in London, I like to organise a small get together with friends I have met through Expatclic. This time, one of them suggested we meet at Tabun Kitchen, a Palestinian restaurant in the heart of Soho.
As some of you might know, I have lived in Palestine for 4 and 1/2 years. Of course part of the Palestinian experience was linked to the gorgeous food Palestinians love to prepare and share with their guests. I was therefore very happy to spend a lovely night with Expatclickers in a Palestinian gastronomical environment.
The gathering has been great because of the lovely atmosphere that we have managed to build in Expatclic through the years. Many amazing and warm women have joined the community in the course of time, and it is always a pleasure to meet and catch up. Doing it in such a warm and welcoming place like the Tabun Kitchen made it all even more special.
Tabun Kitchen was founded by Hanan Kattan, a Jordanian-born film producer of Palestinian origins. Her mother’s family is from Jerusalem, and her father’s from Bethlehem. As she explains on the Tabun Kitchen website, Hanan has glorious memories of moments around food. Palestinians have a special connection with their land, and they honour its produce by creating a variation of dishes whose taste speaks of their welcoming and warm heart.
The name of the restaurant comes from the tabun, an Arabic word that describes a clay oven in the shape of a truncated cone used to make bread. It is an ancient and very typical presence in the Palestinian cuisine tradition, and there is nothing like dipping a piece of warm tabun made bread into a creamy and tasty hummus.
Hummus is obviously among the dishes served at Tabun Kitchen, but it is not the only glorious dip on the table. If you try the Jerusalem Feast, you will be delighted in tasting a fantastic mutabbal, great olives, tasty and soft falafels, and one of the most delicious makloubas I have ever tasted.
What Tabun Kitchen is famous for is also its pizzas. They come in three varieties: a spicy one, with meat, tahini and spicy shat’ta sauce, one with spinach and sumac (deliciously sprinkled with pomegranate seeds) and the more traditional one with Akkawi (from Akka) cheese and za’atar. Of course they all come out of the tabun oven and are fantastic.
I felt so happy at Tabun Kitchen, that I decided to go back a couple of days later with my youngest son, who lived in Palestine with me. He agreed that the food is excellent and that tasting the lovely falafels and maklouba was like going back in time, when we were sharing a piece of our lives with our Palestinian friends.
All expats will tell you that a big part of their memories of a country is linked to food, and this is probably even more true with Palestine. Because not only the food Palestinian prepare is delicious, but it is the expression of their life philosophy in human relationships. To quote Hanan, the founder of Tabun Kitchen:
The philosophy was always about abundance of food, sharing and giving.
I am grateful that there is such a place in London where for the brief lapse of a meal one can go through a real Palestinian experience. The staff is relaxed and warm, the restaurant cozy and welcoming.
And as if there were already not enough reasons to visit it, Tabun Kitchen adds one pound to each table’s bill to support the Galilee Foundation, a UK registered charity that promotes education, cultural and livelihood initiatives for Palestinians in Israel.
So please, if you are in London go and pay a visit. And try the makloube.