Asli – Authentic Palestinian Cuisine, Benoni
Price Range (p/p)
Cheap | Under R100
The events of the last few weeks has the world looking with fresh eyes at the occupation of Palestine by Israel. While governments still hem and haw about what to do, people of all nations have been protesting and rallying behind Palestine. Influencers are spreading the word and getting behind fundraising campaigns and Internet foodies are flooding our social media feeds with Palestinian cuisine.
While there are many middle eastern restaurants, pop ups and vendors all over South Africa, I have not yet encountered one that is specifically Palestinian. Until this week.
Asli, Authentic Palestinian Cuisine is barely a few months old. A family run business which started because Sameer, the father lost his job. His wife was a chef in Palestine and the family with 6 kids now depend on her cooking to make a living.
They supply platters of Palestinian food, sweet dishes and dips to outlets like Creme Café in Lenasia and Saleh’s in Norwood. They have also started taking orders for food from home and offer a collection or delivery service.
We ordered some items from their menu which they sent to us via DM on Instagram and collected it from their home in Rynsoord to have for supper. We opted for a chicken and a beef shawarma, and a Sfeeha, which is like a filled paratha with mince. For the sweet I ordered Harissa which is like a dense, moist cake made with semolina.
The shawarmas were quite large and really good. The wraps were soft thicker than typical store-bought wraps. The chicken and beef fillings were both spicier than expected. The beef only slightly less so than the chicken. Middle eastern food is usually bland, but this was just right and sat well with my heat-seeking Indian palate. All 3 dishes came with a garlic sauce on the side which has green chutney in it for even more heat. The Sfeeha was milder than the shawarma and went down well with the kiddo.
We had the Harissa after supper with steaming mugs of tea. The portion is quite large. I had ordered 4 portions and in retrospect 2 would have been adequate as we cut them in half for the 4 of us. It’s not overly sweet and the texture of coconut also came through the dense cake.
Our order came to R220 in total and was just about enough for 3 adults and a child. I would add one more item next time. And we still have 2 pieces of Harissa left over.
There was Sheesh Kebab and Falafel on their menu as well. You can order your falafel ready-made for you to just heat up. They also offer sweets like Kunafa, Warbat (which is like Baklava) and Gatayef to order.
If you’re in the East Rand or willing to make a trip that way, I would recommend trying them to get a taste of Palestinian food. Everything we had was so tasty and we will definitely be trying the rest of the menu.