Guest Instagrammer: Natalie Tahhan

Over the next two weeks, Natalie Tahhan, a 25 year-old designer living between East Jerusalem and Doha, Qatar, will be taking over the Conflict Kitchen Instagram account.

CK: Tell us about yourself and what you do.

Natalie: My name is Natalie Tahhan, I am a designer and an amateur baker. I was born in Jerusalem and while I spent most of my childhood in Palestine, the majority of my education years I lived in between Doha, Qatar and Dubai, UAE. I am currently living in between Doha & Jerusalem where I work as a Merchandise Designer for Qatar Museums and Al Hoash- The Palestinian Art Court. My two great passions in life are fashion and food.

CK: How has studying abroad and traveling extensively shaped your identity and relationship to your home?

Natalie: Studying womenswear at the University of the Arts: London College of Fashion gave me the opportunity to expand my theoretical and practical knowledge of art, design and culture. Studying and working in London, Dubai & Doha continuously allowed me to broaden and change my views, to compare, to be inquisitive, to dare, to think and work differently.

Although throughout the years I visited Jerusalem regularly, I feel as though living abroad has made me much more aware and appreciative of my surroundings. Unlike most people who have spent their whole lives here, I guess I have a much more romanticised vision of the city, and I try to search for the beauty that exists within every corner. I feel almost blessed in that way, and I hope my outlook doesn’t change while I become more accustomed to my surroundings. I always want to be able to explore and experience the various dimensions and histories this country has to offer.

CK: From following your Instagram it seems that food plays a big part in your life. What are your favourite Palestinian dishes? What are you eating or cooking on a weekly basis?

Natalie: From a young age, I have been quite passionate about food, cooking as well as baking. I take pleasure in cultivating Palestinian culture and history through the food we make and eat, something I believe is very much integrated in our customs and way of living.

While I learned to cook by watching my wonderful mother prepare food for friends and family, baking has been a personal hobby that has developed over the years. I started with simple cupcakes and sugar cookies, and later went on to complete a cake decorating course with Wilton.

My favourite Palestinian dishes would have to be Warak Dawali, which is grape vine leaves and zucchini stuffed with minced lamb and rice, as well as the traditional ‘Musakhan’, made of olive oil soaked taboun bread, sumac fried onions and roast chicken, cooked to perfection in a wood-fired oven.

My cooking is very much influenced by seasonal local produce. As we are coming into spring now, I tend to cook lighter dishes than during the cold winters. Palestine is a wonderful country for farming. Fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables are always in abundance. The local food here in Jerusalem is scrumptious! One of my favourite things to do is have breakfast in the old city, where you will find the best Falafel, Hummus and Kaa’ek (a bagel like bread covered with sesame seeds).