This QC-based kitchen gives a taste of authentic Palestinian cuisine made by Palestinian-Filipino families

More than getting a taste of the vibrant flavors of Gaza, you get to help refugees build life anew in the Philippines with each order.

Food pop-ups have become a regular thing in Metro Manila, offering all kinds of gastronomic delights from artisanal breads to high-end cuisine. With these pop-ups, the choices are endless.

There is one pop-up, however, that goes beyond serving good food, because with every purchase, you get to help a family from a war-torn place to build life anew in the Philippines.

A bit of Gaza in QC

Little Gaza’s Kitchen is a Quezon City-based small food business that offers Filipinos a taste of authentic Gazan cuisine prepared by Filipino-Palestinian families. 

The Post recently interviewed Kamilah Dimaporo Manala-o who is one of the seven Filipinos who put up and manage Little Gaza’s Kitchen at Don Antonio Heights. “The seven of us are also known as the Moro-Palestinian Cooperation Team. Kami po ‘yung naglipat and nag-aalaga sa 16 families, a total of 69 refugees from Gaza,” she shared.

When the war broke out in October, Kamilah was one of those who walked the streets and yelled, “Free Palestine!” “I wished the people of Gaza could hear us, and lo and behold, God brought some of them closer to us for us to serve and take care of,” the mother of four said.

When Kamilah and her friends found out the Palestinian-Filipino refugees were staying in UP Diliman, they quickly went to visit the families and brought them halal food and anything else they needed. From there, they found themselves visiting the families so often until they felt like one big family. It has been more than four months now since their first visit to the Palestinian-Filipino families.

When government support dried out, Kamilah and her team took the families under their care and moved them to a rented place in Don Antonio Heights, Quezon City.

Comfort food from a conflict zone

The group recently held a food bazaar in Don Antonio as well as a pop-up during Eid at the Quezon Memorial Circle to help raise funds for the daily expenses of the families.

Those who were able to buy the dishes they have on sale had the unique opportunity to taste authentic Palestinian cuisine cooked by Palestinian-Filipinos. For the attendees, these events were nothing short of eye-opening—it’s not every day you can say that you’ve had food from that part of the world after all.

In a separate interview with The Post, “Maha,” one of the refugees, shared they were able to flee Gaza through the coordination of both Philippine embassies in Jordan and Egypt and also the International Organization for Migration. “The embassies told us to wait at a point near the Rafah border to get to Egypt once the borders opened so we could travel using Egypt’s airport as Gaza doesn’t have an airport,” she recounted.

Maha and the others arrived in the Philippines in seven batches. She was part of the first batch that arrived in November 2023 with her two kids. “My husband arrived in the last batch after the bombardment of our house in Gaza and with him having been injured,” she shared.

She is one of the mothers who prepare and cook the dishes at Little Gaza’s Kitchen, which recently launched a Facebook page that receives food orders. 

At the bazaars/pop-ups the dishes they sold included kabsa, a traditional rice dish with fragrant rice, chicken, raisins, nuts, and spices; maqlouba, an “upside down” rice dish with seasoned rice, baked vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, eggplant, and tender pieces of chicken; chicken mosakhan, which is roasted chicken seasoned with sumac; and chicken biryani, with which I think many of us are already familiar. 

For dessert they had qatayef, which are stuffed and fried pancakes (much like empanada) filled with nuts and coconut; layali lubnan, a semolina pudding topped with crushed pistachios and a simple syrup; and roz billaban, a dessert consisting of rice, milk, cornstarch, rose water, mastic, honey, cinnamon nuts, and mini roses called Mohammadi roses.

Maha also sold tea with cardamom the last time and she said that it sold out quickly. 

“By doing this we aim at sharing our culture, and also earn a living for a decent life after losing our homes, jobs, and everything we owned in Gaza,” Maha said. 

More food bazaars/pop-ups coming up!

“The bazaar and pop-up was a success, alhamdulillah!” Maha exclaimed when we asked her about Little Gaza’s Kitchen’s first food events. “Many people came and bought our food and everything was sold out.” She shared that they’re planning to have bazaars at the end of the month and in the months to come.

Kamilah, meanwhile, admitted that with 69 individuals under their care, it goes without saying that it is a huge responsibility.

“We cannot do it alone. We need help from anyone and everyone who would like to and are able to help,” she said.

To know more about Little Gaza’s Kitchen and to donate, you may visit their Facebook and Instagram pages. 

They are now accepting orders (minimum of five) through their Facebook page. Due to varying ingredient costs, beef meals generally start at P200, chicken meals at P160, and vegan meals at P140. Place your orders 24 hours in advance.

The new lifestyle.