Heritage Guardians

Rima Abu Rahmeh

“Basically, Summāqīyah is Gazan Palestinian dish. It came down to us from our ancestors. We make it in our festivals, weddings and gatherings. It is delicious and nutritious. Everyone loves it,” said Jamila Rajab Abdul Majeed Khudair (Umm Khaled), 72, and her friends Umm Al-Saeed and Umm Wael. Umm Khaled, a Gazan, boasts that she is “among the best who can make the Summāqīyah .” And that when men eat from her Summāqīyah at festivals and weddings, they would say, “by God, one should marry a Gazan, that is food!”
Umm Khaled told us about the method of making Summāqīyah , which she learned from her mother who died at the age of 100. Her mother taught her and her five sisters how to make Gazan dishes: Kishk, Summāqīyah , Khubiza, Mujdara, Lisan, Rijleh, And Rummaniah. “In the old days there were no schools like now. We would be leisuring in the house yard. My mother would come out and say, 'let's all work together, let's have fun and be happy’. Thank God. I miss those days. We used to work and be happy.”.

Umm Khaled first chops chard (a type of hybrid leafy vegetable), then chops onions and red meat. She would then stir the three ingredients together. After that, she boils sumac, boils and squeezes it, and makes a paste of garlic, pepper and dills. She adds the paste to the boiling onions and minced meat, and chickpeas. In the end, she adds sumac and a little flour (to make the texture solid), stir, and then add tahini. She would pour the food into small dishes and adds olive oil. The food is served with olives and pickles. It is eaten cold. Summāqīyah is usually served on occasions, to many people. Therefore, cooking needs a strong fire and large cooking pot to feed everyone. Umm Khaled says that one of their customs at weddings is to feed approximately 400 attendees.

Making Summāqīyah is one of cherished rituals for women at weddings, where between 20-50 women join in preparing it. The groom’s mother would ask her friends and relatives to help her out with these rituals, which vary between helping with washing, chopping and preparing, or singing, dancing and celebrating.

and chant “Mahahaha Summāqīyah”: "Here we cooked the Makalkalah, and we scooped it up, and today is (Muhammad’s) wedding. We would do whatever he wants." Makalkalah is the Summāqīyah.
The women also sing to the mother of the groom:
“Oh, mother of the groom, we congratulate thee, when thou marry off Muhammad, may your neighbors and family be happy!” And Umm Khaled says, "And we will get a drum, and if there could not manage one, we would beat on the cooking pot. This was normal!”
Despite the large number of women who participate in preparing Summāqīyah, when its cooked, one or two women will do the cooking, "because if the stew is overcooked, it will be ruined!" Umm Khaled explained that when someone invites her to participate in the preparation of Summāqīyah, she agrees, provided that the rest of the women do not interfere with the real cooking. It is known that Summāqīyah is made on other occasions as well, and not only at weddings. It is eaten on the first days of Eid al-Fitr next to Fasikh, and on the day of henna and the week of the newborn and in mourning.
It is noteworthy that Summāqīyah was served in the past with taboon bread next to it. Taboon is a flatbread known for its thickness. Now, due to the scarcity of clay ovens in the Gaza Strip, it is served with local bread. Umm Khaled used to express her happiness when preparing Summāqīyah and feeding it to people, especially when they enjoy eating it and express their appreciation. She also says, recalling the past: “people were close to each other. Whenever one would cook any meal, everyone would join in. People were nice and gentle. We would learn that there is a wedding, even at the end of the world for our loved ones, everyone would go to help. Even on a Ramadan breakfast table, you would find many dishes, as neighbors to share their food.”

The blog content is the responsibility of the Rozana Association and Youth Without Borders Forum in Gaza and does not necessarily express the opinion of the European Union.

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