I have two secrets for cooking. The first is not my secret but my country’s: ‘Cook with your hands.’ The second is love. You need to put some love in your cooking.
I’ve been cooking my whole life. In Palestine I was a chef and I ran a catering business. All my favourite recipes come from my grandmother and her grandmother. I need to hold onto them and share them. These recipes are my culture and I need my culture to continue.
The blood of my family has been soaked into these lands by the guns of Israeli soldiers. I have many hard stories. My children who could escape are now scattered across the world. I live alone, without my children, my land or my culture. Everything I had has been taken from me.
Every day I wake up, make coffee and chat with my plants. I ask them how they are feeling: ‘Do you need something? Some food? Some water?’ It is a very happy place for me. In summer I have zucchini and eggplant ready.
When you cook Palestinian food, the vegetables must be fresh because it’s very simple. For my mother’s baba ganoush, you smoke the eggplant on a flame, then add lemon, salt, garlic and tahina. That’s it. I like to keep it classic, the same as my grandmother.
It has not always been easy in Australia. When I arrived four years ago I couldn’t speak any English. I could only say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Now I run cooking courses for people to learn my Palestinian recipes.
My dream is to open up a food truck called Aheda’s Kitchen. I want to travel around Australia sharing Palestinian food. When people try my dishes and say, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so delicious’, it makes me feel proud.
I miss my home. I miss my country. I miss my family. I can never go back to Palestine but I will always be Palestinian. I hope and pray that one day Palestine will be free.
Please note that the costs of starting a food truck are extraordinarily high. So whilst this amount won't outright be enough for Aheda, we have to start somewhere. This support will enable Aheda to begin building a livelihood based around sharing and cooking Palestinian food and make investments in cooking equipment. Follow Aheda's journey on Instagram @ahedakitchen and stay tuned for future events, dinners and cooking classes.
For transparency: Aheda and I have been friends for a few years but this project is entirely her own, I am just facilitating - no organisation is involved. 100% of funds collected will go directly to Aheda and proof of funds received will be made public.