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Fadi Kattan/Akub

An expert guide to Palestinian food in London by Akub’s Fadi Kattan

Find the finest fatteh in the capital with the ‘Bethlehem’ cookbook author and chef

Leonie Cooper
Written by
Leonie Cooper

There aren’t too many Palestinian restaurants in London, but since last year Akub has been serving houmous and hope in a Notting Hill townhouse, making Time Out’s list of the Top 50 Restaurants in London in the process. Head chef Fadi Kattan’s menu is stacked with serious shatta and magnificent mousakhan, and he publishes his first cookbook, Bethlehem, on May 16. ‘There’s three terroirs; the coast, the Mediterranean-type of landscape inland - almonds, olives, fig trees - and then the desert,’ explains Kattan of the geographical background to the kinds of flavours you’ll find at both Akub and in the book, which looks at the people, recipes and stories of Kattan’s hometown. 

‘The book is me taking your hand and walking you down the streets of Bethlehem and seeing the people you'd meet, but also me telling you the stories of my family that will challenge every preconception you have,’ he adds.

‘It’s a journey, it’s a story. We’re at a moment in history where it's very important we understand that the local voices have their importance. The world is about diversity and humanity, and that’s what we should focus on.’ 

Here’s Fadi Kattan on where you’ll find the finest – and most authentic – Palestinian food in London. 

1. Café Palestina, Kentish Town

‘They’ve partnered with a social enterprise in Abu Dis, which is just outdoors of Jerusalem, and brings to Kentish Town a great taste of Palestine through their cuisine and the Palestinian produce that they sell. It serves food but also crafts and they do Arabic classes and a vegan supper club every other Thursday. It’s a very dynamic space with great knowledge of Palestine’s food and socio-political realities.’ 

What to order: ‘Their all day breakfast with a lemonade and then a cup of Palestinian coffee – it has olive oil and zaatar, cucumbers and tomatoes, houmous. It’s a bit like having breakfast in one of the small places in Bethlehem.’

53 Fortess Rd, NW5 1AD

2. T by Tamara, Marylebone

‘Tamara is a young Palestinian woman and the Queen of Fatteh, that magic comfort food that is so much a feeling of glorious brunches in Palestine that linger on a sunny morning. All of her fatteh transports me to every artisan hummus maker back home. It’s layered bread, then chickpeas or meat or chicken, then yoghurt with garlic on top, then seeds and pomegranate seeds. I like the vibe because it’s modern, it’s young. She also does bakery, things like croissants and pain au chocolat.’

What to eat: ‘The build your own fatteh with musakhan chicken and topped with garlic yoghurt, chickpeas, olive oil and sumac. Then um ali for dessert and a cup of Arabic coffee.’ 

17 Seymour Pl, W1H 5BF

3. Maramia, Notting Hill 

‘This all day, family-run Palestinian cafe in London celebrates Palestinian classics in a cool setting and organising events around our culture. It's more like Palestinians street food with the mezes and the grilled meats. It has a nice atmosphere and vibe, and some Palestinian beers and a couple of local wines. There’s embroidery on the walls and has long tables for hosting lots of people – on a busy night it feels like everybody there knows each other.’

What to eat: ‘I would have the Palestinian moussaka and enjoy a glass of Nabim Cabernet Sauvignon with it then have their knafeh as a dessert.’

48 Golborne Rd, W10 5PR 

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4. Akub, Notting Hill

‘A bit cheeky to choose my restaurant but hey, why not? I love our Palestinian flavours, the modern take on classics, the obsessive breads, the addictive nabulsi cheese, the deep flavours of mansaf and the unique selection of Palestinian wines. In June I'll be introducing a few new menu items; aubergines will sneak their way in as they’ll be in season. When we first started looking at the site with co-founder Rasha Khouri, the feeling of a home was the first thing that came to mind and today, a year and a half onwards, our guests have become family.’ 

What to eat: ‘It would be the mafghoussa, the mansaf and the zaatar ice cream, paired with a Taybeh Nadim Zeini, an Ashkar Doer and an oak-aged arak from Muaddi.’ 

27 Uxbridge St, W8 7TQ

Bethlehem is published May 16 by Hardie Grant

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