Yasmin Khan became a lawyer, then worked as a grassroots organizer for a British anti-poverty organization. Her activism took her to Palestine, where she found that the food and hospitality helped relieve the stress of trying to help people traumatized by years of war and oppression. Khan always loved to cook, and she now calls herself a “culinary anthropologist,” using food to understand other cultures.
Her book Zaitoun - Arabic for olive, both a fundamental ingredient and a symbol of peace - both guides us through Palestinian life and shows us how to cook delicious food. Still, as Khan noted in an interview last year, “...the very act of documenting Palestinian culture, of celebrating it and honoring it and saying that it even exists, is a political act...”
But these times show us that everything is political, and we believe food can help bring people together, especially when it’s this good. I took a few liberties with Khan’s recipe. I had tomatoes and herbs in my garden and our ras el hanout spice blend in the pantry. It’s a north African blend, so the flavor comes from the Levant even if it’s not actually Palestinian...
Photo from yasminkhanstories.com
For the shopping list
Medium Tomatoes, chopped
Chopped Herbs (I used arugula, mint, and parsley)
From the kitchen
preheat your oven to 400F.
Cut the eggplant into quarters lengthwise, then into pieces about 3/4 inch thick. Put them on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt, drizzle generously with olive oil, toss with your hands, and spread out into a single layer. Cook in a 400F oven for about 20 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.
Using enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a heavy skillet, cook the onion over medium heat until just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
Add the garlic and spices and cook for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes, chickpeas, sugar, and a good pinch of salt.
Add about a cup of water and cook for another 20 minutes, then add the roasted eggplant.