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A Taste Of Nablus


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Leslie Williford



Welcome to Nablus, a vibrant city in the heart of the West Bank that is not only rich in history and culture, but also a paradise for food enthusiasts. Nablus is a hidden gem, often overlooked by travelers, but those who venture here are rewarded with a culinary experience like no other.


With its maze-like streets and bustling markets, Nablus is a feast for the senses. The aroma of freshly baked bread fills the air, while the sounds of sizzling meat and animated conversations create an atmosphere that is both lively and inviting. This city has a culinary heritage that dates back centuries, and its food is a reflection of the diverse cultures and influences that have shaped it over time.


Nablus is famous for its delicious traditional dishes, made with locally sourced ingredients and prepared with love and care. From fragrant kebabs to mouthwatering desserts, the food here is a celebration of flavors and traditions passed down through generations.


One of the highlights of Nablus is its vibrant food scene, where you can find a variety of restaurants, street vendors, and local markets. Whether you are a fan of fine dining or prefer to sample street food, Nablus offers something for every palate.


But Nablus is not just a city for food lovers. It is also a city with a rich history and cultural heritage. The streets are lined with ancient architecture, from the towering minarets of the mosques to the impressive remains of the Roman theater. Exploring the city is like stepping back in time, and each corner unveils a new story waiting to be discovered.


In this article, we will take you on a culinary journey through Nablus, exploring its traditional food, famous dishes, and iconic desserts. We will also introduce you to the local markets and food vendors where you can indulge in the flavors of Nablus. So, get ready to tantalize your taste buds and immerse yourself in the unique food culture of Nablus.


History of Nablus

Nablus, also known as Shechem in ancient times, is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a history that spans over 2,000 years. Nestled between two mountains in the northern part of the West Bank, Nablus has been a significant cultural, economic, and political center throughout history.


The city has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, making it one of the longest continuously inhabited cities in the region. It has witnessed the rise and fall of various civilizations, including the Canaanites, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, and Ottomans.


Throughout its history, Nablus has been an important trade hub due to its strategic location on the trade routes connecting the Mediterranean coast with the inland regions. Its prosperity can be attributed to its thriving agricultural sector, which produced olive oil, wheat, barley, figs, and grapes. These goods were traded extensively, attracting merchants and traders from near and far.


During the Roman and Byzantine periods, Nablus enjoyed a period of great prosperity and growth. The city was adorned with grand buildings, including a magnificent Roman theater that could accommodate thousands of spectators. The remains of this theater can still be seen today, a testament to Nablus’ rich historical heritage.


In the 7th century, Nablus came under Islamic rule after the Arab Muslim conquests. The city prospered under Muslim rule, and several mosques were built, including the iconic An-Nasr Mosque, which stands as a symbol of Nablus’ Islamic heritage.


During the Crusader period, Nablus was a hotly contested city in the struggle between the Christian Crusaders and the Muslim forces. The Crusaders captured and held the city for a short time before it was reclaimed by the Muslims. The city changed hands several times during the Crusader period, leaving its mark on the city’s history.


In more recent history, Nablus has undergone significant changes due to Israeli occupation and conflicts in the region. Despite the challenges, the city has remained resilient, preserving its rich cultural heritage and traditions.


Today, Nablus is a vibrant city that attracts visitors with its blend of ancient history and modern charm. Exploring the winding streets and bustling markets is like taking a step back in time, allowing you to immerse yourself in the captivating history of this remarkable city.


Cultural heritage of Nablus

Nablus is a city that wears its cultural heritage proudly, and its traditions and customs are deeply ingrained in its identity. The cultural fabric of Nablus is woven together by the diverse communities and influences that have shaped the city over centuries.


One of the most prominent aspects of Nablus’ cultural heritage is its Palestinian identity. The city has been a hub for Palestinian culture and nationalism, with its residents fiercely proud of their Palestinian heritage. The people of Nablus have preserved their traditions, language, and customs, creating a vibrant cultural tapestry that showcases the resilience and strength of the Palestinian people.


Nablus is also known for its rich Islamic heritage. The city is home to numerous mosques that date back centuries, each one a beautiful example of Islamic architecture. The ancient An-Nasr Mosque, built during the Islamic conquest in the 7th century, stands as a testament to the city’s enduring relationship with Islam. Its stunning mosaics and intricate decorations are a sight to behold.


The cultural heritage of Nablus can also be seen in its vibrant arts and crafts scene. The city is renowned for its traditional pottery, embroidery, and soap-making. The soap-making industry in Nablus is particularly famous, with traditional olive oil soap known as “Nablusi soap” being recognized worldwide for its quality and craftsmanship.


The traditional music and dance of Nablus are also integral parts of its cultural heritage. The sounds of the oud (a stringed instrument) and the rhythmic beats of the tabla (drum) fill the air during festivals and celebrations. Traditional dances, such as the Dabke, bring people together, as they stomp their feet to the lively music.


The ancient architecture of Nablus is yet another testament to its rich cultural heritage. The old city is a maze of narrow streets and stone buildings, adorned with ornate balconies and arched doorways. The architectural style reflects the influence of various civilizations that have ruled the city over the centuries, creating a unique blend of styles.


Visiting Nablus is like stepping into a living museum of cultural heritage. The city’s residents are proud of their traditions and eager to share them with visitors. Whether it’s through food, music, art, or architecture, Nablus’ cultural heritage is a tapestry that weaves together the stories and legacies of the past.


Traditional food in Nablus

When it comes to traditional food, Nablus is a culinary paradise that delights the senses. The city is known for its rich and flavorful dishes that have been passed down through generations. Nablus’ cuisine showcases the agricultural abundance of the region and the culinary skills of its people.


The staple ingredients in Nablus’ traditional cuisine are locally sourced and fresh. Olive oil, a symbol of Palestinian cuisine, is used generously in various dishes. Fresh herbs, spices, and seasonal vegetables play a key role in creating the distinct flavors that define Nablus’ culinary traditions.


One of the most beloved traditional dishes in Nablus is Mansaf. This Jordanian-Palestinian dish is a celebratory meal often served on special occasions. It consists of tender lamb cooked in a rich broth made from fermented goat’s milk called Jameed. The meat is then served on a bed of fragrant saffron-infused rice and topped with a layer of crispy bread and toasted almonds.


Maklouba, meaning “upside down” in Arabic, is another iconic dish of Nablus. It is a layered casserole made with meat, rice, and a variety of vegetables such as cauliflower, eggplant, and carrots. The dish is cooked in a pot, and when ready, it is flipped over onto a platter, presenting a beautiful arrangement of flavors and colors.


Kufta is a popular dish in Nablus, often enjoyed at family gatherings and weddings. It is made from ground meat, usually a combination of lamb and beef, mixed with spices, herbs, and onions. The seasoned meat is shaped into kebabs or patties and then grilled or cooked in a rich tomato-based sauce.


Vegetarian options are also abundant in Nablus’ culinary repertoire. Waraq al-‘Aynab, commonly known as stuffed grape leaves, is a delicious vegetarian dish made by folding tender grape leaves around a flavorful mixture of rice, tomatoes, parsley, and spices. The stuffed grape leaves are then gently simmered until tender.


As a city with a strong connection to agriculture, Nablus is famous for its wholesome salads and dips. Fattoush, a refreshing salad made with crispy pita bread, fresh vegetables, and a tangy dressing, is a popular choice. Baba ghanoush, a smoky eggplant dip, is another flavorful option that pairs perfectly with warm pita bread.


Exploring the traditional food of Nablus is an adventure for the taste buds. Each dish tells a story, reflecting the cultural heritage and culinary expertise of the city’s residents. From hearty meat dishes to vibrant vegetarian delights, Nablus’ traditional cuisine offers a delectable journey through the flavors of Palestinian gastronomy.


Famous dishes of Nablus

Nablus is a city renowned for its culinary delights and famous dishes that have become iconic representations of the region’s gastronomy. These dishes have captivated the palates of locals and visitors alike, showcasing the rich flavors and traditional cooking techniques that define Nablus’ culinary heritage.


One of the most famous dishes of Nablus is Knafeh, a beloved Palestinian dessert that has gained international recognition. Knafeh consists of a layer of soft, stretchy cheese topped with a layer of crunchy semolina dough, sweetened with a rosewater-infused syrup. The dessert is typically adorned with crushed pistachios and served warm. The combination of textures and flavors makes Knafeh an absolute delight for those with a sweet tooth.


Another mouthwatering specialty of Nablus is Musakhan. This traditional Palestinian dish features tender roasted chicken marinated in a blend of spices, including sumac and allspice. The chicken is then laid on a bed of caramelized onions and served on top of a thin layer of flatbread. The dish is finished off with a sprinkle of sumac and toasted pine nuts. Musakhan is a hearty and flavorful dish that represents the rich culinary heritage of Nablus.


Maqluba, meaning “upside down” in Arabic, is a popular and visually stunning dish in Nablus. This one-pot wonder features layers of rice, meat (such as chicken, lamb, or beef), and assorted vegetables, typically eggplant, cauliflower, and carrots. The ingredients are layered in a pot and cooked together until tender. When ready, the pot is flipped over onto a serving platter, presenting a beautiful arrangement of colors and flavors.


For those who appreciate the flavors of street food, a visit to Nablus is incomplete without trying Ka’ak, a traditional Palestinian bread roll. These sesame-coated rolls are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, making them a perfect snack or accompaniment to meals. Ka’ak are often filled with a variety of fillings, such as za’atar (a mixture of herbs and spices) or a savory blend of cheese and spices.


Nablusi cheese, named after the city, is an iconic culinary treasure that has become synonymous with Nablus. The cheese is produced using traditional methods, and its distinctive taste and texture have made it renowned worldwide. Nablusi cheese is white, soft, and slightly salty, perfect for crumbling over salads or enjoying with fresh bread and olive oil.


These famous dishes of Nablus are just a taste of the culinary wonders that await visitors. From savory mains to indulgent desserts, Nablus’ gastronomic offerings are sure to leave a lasting impression and a desire for more.


The making of Nablusi cheese

Nablusi cheese is a cherished culinary gem that originates from the city of Nablus, and its production is steeped in tradition and craftsmanship. This beloved cheese has become an iconic symbol of Palestinian gastronomy, known for its unique taste and texture.


The process of making Nablusi cheese begins with sourcing high-quality sheep’s milk, which is known for its rich and creamy characteristics. The milk is first heated and then left to curdle, usually overnight, allowing the natural enzymes to separate the curds from the whey.


Once the curds have formed, they are gently cut into small cubes and transferred to cheesecloth-lined molds, allowing any excess whey to drain away. The cheese is then pressed to remove even more moisture, which results in a denser texture.


After pressing, the cheese is set aside to age for a period of time, typically around three months. During the aging process, the cheese develops its distinct flavor and texture, becoming firmer and acquiring a slightly salty taste. The aging is done in controlled environments, ensuring the optimal conditions for the cheese to mature and develop its unique characteristics.


Throughout the aging process, the cheese is carefully flipped and rotated to ensure even distribution of moisture and prevent any mold formation. This attention to detail is crucial in producing a high-quality cheese with a consistent taste and texture.


Once the aging process is complete, the cheese is ready to be enjoyed. Nablusi cheese is typically white in color, with a semi-soft texture that is slightly crumbly. Its taste is rich and savory, with a hint of saltiness that pairs perfectly with other ingredients or eaten on its own.


Nablusi cheese is incredibly versatile and used in various dishes. It can be crumbled over salads, melted into sandwiches, or enjoyed alongside traditional Palestinian bread and olives. The cheese also pairs well with sweet flavors, such as drizzling a bit of honey or fig jam on top, creating a delightful contrast between savory and sweet.


The making of Nablusi cheese is not just a culinary process but also a preservation of Palestinian cultural heritage. The cheese is a symbol of Nablus’ culinary prowess and craftsmanship, reflecting the region’s rich tradition of dairy production. Each bite of this beloved cheese is a testament to the skill and dedication of the cheesemakers who have perfected their craft over generations.


Traditional desserts of Nablus

In Nablus, the sweet tooth is celebrated with a wide array of traditional desserts that showcase the region’s culinary flair and mastery of creating irresistible sweet treats. These desserts are a testament to the rich heritage and culture of Nablus, delighting locals and visitors alike with their vibrant flavors and unique textures.


One of the most beloved traditional desserts in Nablus is Knafeh. This iconic Palestinian dessert is made with layers of shredded phyllo dough, a generous layer of Nablusi cheese, and a drizzle of sweet syrup infused with orange blossom water. The dessert is then baked until golden and crispy, creating a heavenly combination of creamy cheese, crunchy pastry, and the sweetness of the syrup. Knafeh is often enjoyed during festive occasions, and its indulgent taste makes it a favorite among locals.


Another popular sweet treat in Nablus is Tamriyeh. These date-filled pastries are made by stuffing tender dates into a semolina-based dough, often flavored with hints of rosewater or orange blossom water. The pastries are then baked to golden perfection, resulting in a delightful blend of textures and flavors. Tamriyeh is commonly enjoyed with a cup of Arabic coffee, making it the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing afternoon.


Zalabiyeh, also known as “Arabic donuts,” are a beloved street food in Nablus. These fried dough balls are crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and usually coated with a dusting of powdered sugar or drizzled with syrup for an extra touch of sweetness. Zalabiyeh is a popular choice during Ramadan and festive occasions, and its addictive taste keeps people coming back for more.


On special occasions, such as weddings and holidays, Mamoul cookies are a must in Nablus. These delicate shortbread-like cookies are filled with a sweet date paste or a mixture of ground nuts and spices. The cookies are intricately molded with beautiful designs, representing the artistry and attention to detail that goes into their creation. Mamoul cookies are treasured treats that are often shared among friends and family.


Basbousa, a moist semolina cake soaked in sweet syrup, is another traditional dessert widely enjoyed in Nablus. The cake is often flavored with rosewater or orange blossom water, creating a fragrant and aromatic dessert. Topped with a sprinkling of pistachios or almonds, Basbousa is a delightful combination of textures and flavors that is difficult to resist.


Traditional desserts in Nablus are more than just sweets; they are a reflection of the region’s culinary heritage and a testament to the skill and creativity of its bakers. Whether enjoyed during festive celebrations or simply as a sweet indulgence, these desserts will transport you to a world of flavors, traditions, and the warm hospitality of Nablus.


Local markets and food vendors in Nablus

Nablus is a city that comes alive with vibrant markets and bustling food vendors, offering a sensory feast for visitors and locals alike. Exploring the local markets in Nablus is not only a culinary adventure but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich culture and traditions of the city.


One of the most famous markets in Nablus is the Old City Market, known as the souk. This labyrinth of alleyways is lined with shops selling a wide variety of goods, including fresh produce, spices, herbs, clothing, and handmade crafts. As you navigate through the bustling souk, the aroma of spices fills the air, enticing you to discover the flavorful treasures hidden within.


The Old City Market is also a haven for food lovers, with numerous food vendors offering a tempting array of street food. From freshly baked bread and pastries to sizzling kebabs and falafels, there is something to satisfy every craving. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample traditional Palestinian specialties like ka’ak (bread rolls), manaqeesh (flatbreads topped with herbs and cheese), and savory pastries.


Another must-visit market in Nablus is the An-Nasr Market, located near the An-Nasr Mosque. This market is known for its vibrant atmosphere and traditional Palestinian delicacies. Here, you can find a wide selection of locally produced olive oil, cheeses, nuts, and spices. The market is a treasure trove of flavors, where you can browse and taste the finest products that Nablus has to offer.


When visiting Nablus, it’s also worth exploring the daily farmers’ market, where local farmers and vendors gather to sell their fresh produce. The market is a feast for the eyes, with colorful displays of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local food culture and interact with the friendly vendors who take great pride in their produce.


Throughout the city, you’ll come across street vendors selling traditional snacks and sweets. From the mouthwatering scent of roasted nuts to the irresistible aroma of freshly baked pastries, these vendors offer a quick and delicious way to experience Nablus’ culinary delights on the go. Be sure to try treats like roasted chickpeas, knafeh, and sesame-coated sweets known as barazek.


Exploring the local markets and food vendors in Nablus is not only about satisfying your taste buds but also about connecting with the vibrant culture and warm hospitality of the city. It’s an opportunity to experience firsthand the flavors, aromas, and traditions that make Nablus a true food lover’s paradise.


Popular food festivals in Nablus

Nablus is a city that embraces its culinary heritage, and one of the best ways to experience the vibrant food culture is by attending its popular food festivals. These festive events celebrate the rich flavors and traditions of Nablus, providing a unique opportunity to indulge in delicious delicacies and immerse yourself in the local culture.


The Nablus Olive Oil Festival is a highly anticipated event that takes place annually, usually in October or November, during the olive harvest season. Olives are an integral part of Palestinian cuisine, and this festival celebrates the rich flavors and nutritional benefits of olive oil. Visitors can enjoy tasting sessions, cooking demonstrations, and cultural performances, all centered around the versatile and beloved olive oil.


Another festival that celebrates the culinary traditions of Nablus is the Knafeh Festival. Knafeh, a sweet and cheesy Palestinian dessert, takes center stage during this festival. The event features live cooking demonstrations, competitions, and of course, plenty of opportunities to savor different variations of this iconic dessert. It’s a delightful feast for those with a sweet tooth and a love for this beloved Palestinian delicacy.


The Palestinian Cultural Festival, held annually in Nablus, is a vibrant celebration of Palestinian heritage in all its forms, including its rich culinary traditions. The festival showcases traditional Palestinian dishes, street food, and snacks, allowing visitors to sample a wide variety of flavors and learn about the cultural significance of each dish. Alongside the food, the festival showcases traditional music, dance performances, and artisanal crafts that reflect the diverse Palestinian culture.


The Nablus Dates Festival is a delightful event dedicated to the revered dates of the region. Palestinian dates are known for their exceptional quality and flavor, and this festival celebrates the importance of dates in Palestinian cuisine and culture. Visitors can enjoy tasting different varieties of dates, learn about the cultivation process, and even take part in date-picking experiences. It’s a fantastic opportunity to indulge in the natural sweetness of dates and gain a deeper appreciation for this versatile fruit.


These food festivals in Nablus not only offer a delectable culinary experience but also provide cultural insights into the rich Palestinian heritage. They are a celebration of flavors, traditions, and the warm hospitality of the city. Attending these festivals allows you to connect with the vibrant food culture of Nablus and create lasting memories of incredible tastes and cultural experiences.



Nablus is a city that captivates both the heart and the taste buds. Its rich history, cultural heritage, and vibrant food scene make it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts and travelers seeking an authentic culinary experience. From traditional dishes like Mansaf and Maklouba to iconic desserts like Knafeh, the flavors of Nablus are a feast for the senses.


Exploring Nablus means immersing yourself in a vibrant culinary culture where tradition meets innovation. The city’s local markets, street food vendors, and food festivals provide opportunities to sample the diverse flavors and aromatic delights that define Nablus’ gastronomy.


But Nablus offers more than just food. Its rich history and cultural heritage are intertwined with its culinary traditions, creating a unique and immersive experience for visitors. The ancient architectural gems, vibrant markets, and warm hospitality of the locals create an atmosphere that is as welcoming as it is mesmerizing.


Whether you find yourself wandering through the narrow streets of the Old City, exploring the bustling markets, or indulging in the traditional dishes at a local restaurant, Nablus is sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds and your memories.


So, come and savor the flavors of Nablus, where traditional recipes and time-honored techniques come together to create a culinary tapestry that reflects the region’s history, culture, and passion for food. Experience the warmth of the people, the richness of the cuisine, and the beauty of this hidden gem in the heart of the West Bank. Nablus awaits you with open arms and a delectable adventure that will leave you craving more.