Yasmin Khan's delicious selection of recipes from Palestine.

Donyana salad

Serves 4 as a side dish

2 fennel bulbs (about 300g in total)

1 Granny Smith apple, or other tart apple

15g dill, coarse stalks removed, finely chopped

15g parsley leaves, finely chopped

30g sweetened dried cranberries or sour cherries

50g blanched almonds, roughly chopped

juice of ½ orange, or to taste

juice of ½ lemon, or to taste

zest of 1 organic or unwaxed orange, removed with a zester

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Core the fennel and apple and, using a sharp knife or mandolin, finely cut both into very thin slices, saving any fennel fronds. Place in a bowl with the herbs and cranberries or cherries.

Toast the almonds in a dry pan over a medium heat until they turn golden brown, then add them to the salad.

Pour over the orange and lemon juices, orange zest and extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently and taste; you may want to add a squeeze more lemon or orange juice to adjust the acidity or sweetness to your liking. Scatter with the reserved fennel fronds, if you have them.

This salad can happily sit for 1 hour or so before serving; in fact it even improves, as the flavours have a chance to harmonise.

Aubergine and feta kefte

600g aubergines (about

2 large ones) chopped into 1cm squares

3 tablespoons light olive oil, plus more for the tray

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

175g bulgur wheat

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

10g mint leaves, finely chopped

15g parsley leaves, finely chopped

175g feta cheese, crumbled 50g sunflower and pumpkin seeds

2 eggs, lightly beaten finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

and keep well for a few days in the fridge.

Serves 4–6

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6.

Place the aubergine pieces on a baking tray and drizzle with the 3 tablespoons light olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Use your hands to mix the pieces, then roast for 25 minutes, or until soft. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and leave to cool.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the bulgur wheat and cook for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain well again, then add the bulgur to the aubergines.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/Gas 7, or just increase the temperature if you didn’t turn the oven off.

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds by stirring them in a dry pan for a few minutes until their aromas are released, then grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Stir into the aubergines and bulgur wheat with all the remaining ingredients, seasoning with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Oil a baking tray, then use your hands to mould 12 satsuma-sized

kefte and place them on the prepared tray.

Roast for around 20 minutes, or until the kefte are golden all over.

Mtabaq

for the mtabaq

90g salted butter, melted

36 sheets of filo pastry, each 20cm square

750g grated akkawi cheese, or 500g ricotta mixed with 250g grated mozzarella crushed unsalted pistachios, to serve

for the syrup 260g caster sugar

seeds from 3 cardamom pods, crushed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

eaten as soon as they’re made, but you can assemble the parcels slightly ahead of time and then just pop them in the oven 30 minutes before you are planning to serve them.

Traditionally, akkawi cheese is used to make this and you’ll be able to find that in Middle Eastern stores. Alternatively,

I use a mix of ricotta and mozzarella, which is more readily available.

Makes 6

Brush the base of a large baking tin with melted butter. Place

a sheet of filo pastry in the tin and brush it with melted butter. Layer 5 more sheets on top, brushing each with butter as you go. (Keep the remaining filo covered with a clean, damp tea towel while you work, to prevent it drying out.)

Divide the cheese into 6 portions. Spoon 1 portion into the middle of the pastry and use your fingers to spread it in a square, leaving a 5cm frame around it.

Fold 1 corner of the pastry layers into the middle and repeat for the remaining corners until you have a square parcel. Turn seam side down, brush with a little more butter, then use a sharp knife to cut through the top layers in a cross shape. Repeat to fill and shape 6 pastries. At this stage, you could leave the m’tabaq for up to 1 hour, but not much longer, or the filo can become soggy.

Preheat the oven to 230°C/fan 210°C/Gas 8. Bake the parcels for 15–20 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.

Halfway through cooking, make the syrup. Pour 120ml water into a saucepan and place over a medium heat, adding the sugar and cardamom. Bring to the boil, stirring to help the sugar dissolve, then add the lemon juice and simmer for 2 minutes.

As soon as you take the pastries out of the oven, pour the hot syrup evenly over (3–4 tablespoons on each should do it). Leave for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with crushed pistachios and serve.

Quick pickled avocados

250ml white wine vinegar 3 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon sugar (any type) 1 tablespoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon coriander seeds 2 unripe avocados

and tangy morsels after just a few hours. No longer do you have to wait for avos to soften in your fruit bowl, just douse them in this sour and salty brine for a few hours and they will be ready to enjoy alongside rice pilafs or mazzeh (mezze) dishes. These are best eaten on the day you make them. Avoid the coriander seeds and peppercorns, as they can be intense when eaten whole.

Serves 4–6 as part of a spread

Place all the ingredients, apart from the avocados, in a saucepan

over a medium heat and pour in 250ml water. Bring to the boil, stirring every now and then to dissolve the sugar and salt. Let the brine cool to room temperature.

When the brine is cold, peel the avocados, halve them and remove the stones, then cut them into 1cm-thick slices. Place them in a 1-litre pickling jar or medium plastic food box and pour over the brine, making sure you completely cover the avocados. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to 6 hours, before serving.

Roast Chicken with Sumac and Red Onions

Mussakhan

Serves 4

1kg chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin on

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1½ tablespoons sumac, plus more to dust

juice of 1 lemon

4 garlic cloves, crushed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large red onions (about 500g), finely sliced into half-moons

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon light olive oil

naan or Arabic taboon bread, to serve

chopped parsley leaves

Slash the flesh of each piece of chicken diagonally a few times, around 2cm apart, and then place the meat in a large bowl or plastic food container.

Pour over the extra virgin olive oil, spices, lemon juice, garlic, 1½ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and rub this into the meat. Add the red onions and toss everything together well. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1–3 hours.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/Gas 5.

Transfer the meat to a baking tray and roast for about 35 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear when pierced at their thickest part. Once the chicken is cooked, cover in foil and leave to rest while you prepare the toppings.

Fry the pine nuts in the light olive oil for a minute or so until they turn golden brown, then tip on to kitchen paper to drain.

To serve, toast the naan or taboon bread and then place the chicken and red onion on top. Finish with a smattering of pine nuts, sumac and chopped parsley. Drizzle over any remaining roasting juices so they soak into the bread, then sprinkle over a little more extra virgin olive oil.