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Food & Drink
16th November 2011
Sally Broom visits a unique cooking school in Amman and learns to prepare Mensaf, just like Grandma used to make
Tucked away in a traditional house in one of Amman’s oldest neighborhoods, is a wonderful cookery school run by two sisters.
It's called Beit Sitti – ‘My Grandmother’s House’. Their initial plan was to buy their grandmother's former home in Weindeh, but when that particular house was not for sale, they acquired the house next door instead.
The two sisters wanted to honour their grandmother's memory and decided to use the house to create a place where locals and visitors alike could come and enjoy a traditional cooking experience, ‘just like Grandma used to make’.
My 'experience' took place mainly on the outside terrace under a canopy, surrounded by candles and old fig trees. The sound o um Kalthoum played in the background and the citadel and old Amman stretched out below us.
I worked with a group of other students to make a three course meal, with ‘Mensaf’ for the main course, and fabulous ‘Kunafa’ for dessert.
The Kunafa was the clear favourite of the night. I won’t give away the recipe – you’ll have to visit Beit Sitti to learn it yourself! But I will say that it involved taking cheese and vermicelli noodles, with some ‘secret’ sauce, layering it tightly then baking it. Enough said! Just know that the result is mouth-watering.
Our party was joined by the team from St George wines. These wines are delicious with a very fragrant taste, which reminds you of the spices from across this whole region. All the wines are organic, but the owner of the label refuses to make this clear. Why? He says, winemakers should be made to state when their wines are not organic. Good point!
The evening was a very uplifting experience, cooking beautiful homemade food in a traditional way with some wonderful local women. The wines added to the overall indulgence of the evening and we drifted through several hours of amiable chopping, chatting, clinking and charring aubergines.
Beit Sitti is a wonderful place, made all the more inspiring by the two young women who have conceived and built this place; in fact it’s worth the short flight to Amman just to experience it.
Sally Broom is co-founder of Tripbod.com. Tripbod.com has thousands of local experts scattered around the world, each with a unique perspective on their particular destination. For local knowledge there’s no better place to start than www.tripbod.com.
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Great to see the spotlight on authentic local experiences such as this! The Middle East deserves our support now more than ever as it struggles to combat the negative press. There's really no better time to travel in the region than now - it's safe, places are deserted, prices are low and you can make a real difference in rebuilding tourism from the grassroots up!
Fantastic article, very jealous! I love getting my hands dirty when I travel and only buy organic wine!
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