Watch the video of the live cooking demonstration:

St Martha’s House opened its doors to Friends of the Holy Land on September 11th and what a treat it was to “visit” this precious facility via Zoom. St Martha’s provides day care for up to 40 elderly Christian women, most commonly widows and those whose families have emigrated. They are collected and brought to St Martha’s in a minibus where they find a hot meal, companionship and other much-needed support. Something new that we learnt during the event was that St Martha’s is not only a lifeline for the women who visit, but it is just as vital to the staff who work there, many of whom are also single women living without the support of family.

It was a grey day in the UK, but the sun was out in Bethlehem where Laila Asfoura, the Executive Director of St Martha’s welcomed us and began with a tour of the facilities and introductions to board members, staff and some of the clients. There were groups of women chatting and playing cards, as we passed through the communal areas on our way to the kitchen. The ladies prepared a  traditional Palestinian dish before our eyes,  carefully explaining every step. Maqluba, or upside down as it translates in English, is a dish that we were assured every Palestinian woman knows how to cook. And after watching the step-by-step demonstration, there are sure to be a few made here in the UK, too!

There was then time for questions from the participants which ranged from food-based queries to more direct questions about what can be done to continue and expand provision. The event concluded with a glimpse of the ladies’ meals being served, and many a mouth was watering in the UK! For those of you that missed the event, or want to try your hand at cooking Maqluba, the recipe is below.

The feedback from participants and the team at St Martha’s has been whole-heartedly positive, so we will look to do something similar again in the future. While travelling to see our projects in the flesh remains challenging, the power of technology means that our supporters can interact and experience first-hand the difference they are making.

Thank you to Laila and the team at St Martha’s for all their effort in putting this together, and a big thank you to those supporters who joined us.

To find out more please take a look at our St Martha’s page or to donate, click here


Maqluba / Maqloubeh Recipe


Chicken (cut into moderate pieces)
Bay leaf
Black pepper 
Oil for frying
1 tsp. mixed spices
1tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 cups rice
Turmeric for colouring
Stock to cover the rice
½ cup pine nuts


  1. Cut the cauliflower, aubergine, potatoes and tomatoes into small pieces.
  2. Wash the rice and soak in warm water.
  3. Wash the chicken, cut into moderate pieces and put it in boiling water.
  4. Add pepper, onion cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, bay leaf and black pepper to the water. When the chicken is tender, put the stock aside.
  5. Fry the cauliflower, aubergine, potatoes and carrots.
  6. Put the pieces of chicken in a large pot, then all the fried vegetables, the tomatoes and garlic. Drain the rice and
     add to the pot.
  7. Add salt, turmeric, and spices then add enough stock to cover the rice. Lower the heat when starts to boil, and cook until all water is absorbed (this takes about 18 minutes).
  8. Leave it for five minutes and remove the lid, invert a large platter over top of the pot and flip over pot and platter together, so the meal settles on the platter.
  9. Garnish it with pine nuts.
  10. Serve with yogurt or salads.