Gazan dagga “hot tomato dill salsa” #Arabicflavor

Gazan dakka (dill and pepper tomato salsa)

I have been trying to write a post for 2 weeks with no luck. What is happening in Gaza makes it very hard to write about food or anything else for that matter.

If you have not been keeping up with the news, let me fill you in. In the past 21 days, over 1000 Palestinians (mostly civilians) have been killed. Over 200 of the 1000 were children. Almost 6000 Palestinians have been injured. Nearly 166,000 Palestinians have sought shelter at United Nations facilities because their homes were either destroyed or unsafe to live in because of the Israeli attack.

The images, footage and stories coming out of Gaza are enough to give you nightmares for the rest of your life but can  you imagine what it must be like to live through it all? I have dear friends in Gaza,and I have been worried sick about them especially after losing contact with most of them after short messages saying that their houses were bombed, they are still alive but barely.

I can hardly bear to watch the news, yet I can’t stop myself from watching. Every broadcast leaves me with a cascade of emotions. I am Sad, broken, angry, furious but above all, I feel helpless. I want to do something but what?

Nisreen Al shawwa, and Mona Al Saboni, two wonderfully talented Arabic bloggers had the answer. They called upon all the Arabic food bloggers to come together and form a group. The aim of the group is to provide a true image of the Arabic world using food and recipes as a canvas.  With every recipe “Arabic flavor” (the name we chose for the group) will share a recipe from a country and every blogger will tell you a little more about that country.

Our first feature and the reason the group came together is Gaza and Nisreen suggested the Gazan Dagga. But before I get to the recipe..

Let me tell you a little about Gaza

The Gaza strip or simply Gaza is a Palestinian region on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.Gaza is a small area measuring  41 kilometers long, and from 6 to 12 kilometers wide, with a total area of 365 square kilometers (141 sq mi).  Around 1.82 million Palestinians live in Gaza making it among the most densely populated parts of the world. 1.1 million of the 1.8 million in Gaza are Palestinian refugees. They were kicked out of their homes when Israel occupied Palestine in 1948.

Gaza cuisine

As home to the largest concentration of refugees within historic Palestine,Gaza has a unique cuisine that is the result of the merging of the culinary traditions of the original Gaza residents with those brought by the refugees from hundreds of towns and villages that now exist only in memory—depopulated and destroyed in the year 1948.  Add to the mix the Egyptian influence that resulted from the Egyptian rule between 1959 and 1967 and the result is an extraordinary cuisine that is Mediterranean, Levantine, Egyptian but above all uniquely Gazan

Gazan dakka ingredients

Hot Chili and dill is one of the unique combinations in the Gazan cuisine . It is served along side grilled meat, chicken or fish for a blast of heat and flavor.  Chili and dill are also combined with tomatoes and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil to form the signature Gazan salad (Gazan dagga). Fresh green chili peppers crushed in a mortar with dill seeds or fresh dill along with lemon and salt are also served along side stews and soups for a blast of bright flavor on cold and dark winter days.Ground red chili peppers  with dill seeds are preserved in oil and sold as a condiment and ingredient, resembling North Africa’s popular harissa. In short, Gazans take pride in making you sweat :) then again, if you live in a place that is bombed by Israel every two years, you’d better learn to tolerate the heat.

Gazan dakka (dill and pepper tomato salsa)

Gazan dagga

Gazan salad or salata ghazaweh (السلطه الغزاويه او الدقه الغزاويه)


1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small onion chopped

2 hot chili peppers, roughly chopped

1 cup fresh dill, minced or 1 teaspoon of dill seeds

2 very ripe tomatoes, chopped

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil


In a Gazan clay bowl or zibdiya (or a morter or curved bottomed bowl) mash the onion and salt into a paste using a pestle.

Add chilies and continue to crush.

Add half of the dill (if using fresh dill) or all of the dill seeds if using seeds and crush them to release the natural oils

Add tomatoes and mash (you can make the salsa as smooth or as chunky as you like.

If using fresh dill add the other half along with the lemon juice and toss .

Top generously with olive oil.

Serve with flat bread on the side for dipping

Notes and variations:

  • You can substitute minced garlic for the onions.
  • For a tahini salsa variable, dd chopped cucumbers and 1 tablespoon of tahini. (This variation is from the old village of Beit Jirja, north of the Gaza Strip.)
  • A small food processor may be used in place of a mortar and pestle. Make sure to “pulse” the ingredients—don’t purée them But if you want to experience the full flavor of this salsa, do take the time and effort to make it in a mortar and pestle.
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  1. Cathie Goforth

     /  July 30, 2014

    I’ll try this with the peppers I have, jalapeno. I think it will be lovely. It is much like Pico De Gallo. The Isreal/Gaza dispute is beyond my comprehension. My best to all who are suffering on all sides.

  2. Great post! My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by what is happening in Gaza.

  3. It was a wonderful read… never knew about Gaza cuisine!!! And yes, super-duper easy to make salsa/salad :) I will give it a try soon…

  4. The events are tragic indeed and while helpless to do anything substantive to change that your attempt to bring the location and its people to the attention of the food blogging world is admirable. I wish you the best of luck with #Arabic_Flavour.

  5. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

     /  July 30, 2014

    I love you and Nisreen and Mona for what you’re doing. Don’t stop. I watch the news and feel so helpless. I see the children who’ve been murdered and the power station bombed and people with no houses and my soul cries out. The world has to do more than say, “I think you shouldn’t do that any more.”

    I’m going to make Gazan Dagga today.

  6. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time but never commented. Thank you. Both for this delicious looking recipe and for your instructive lesson on Gaza. I can’t imagine how anxious you must be or what your friends and family are going through.

  7. My heart is with the Palestinians.

  8. G’day! I really enjoyed your recipe and blog post today Sawsan and one can only hope for world peace!
    Sharing your post today!
    Cheers! Joanne

  9. I agree the crisis in Gaza is distressing to say the least. It is shocking and grotesque at the loss of a number of innocent lives while the rest of the world just looks on helplessly. May peace prevail upon us all at the earllest!!

    As for this recipe, the dill is an interesting twist to the salsa.. am intrigued to give it a shot!!

  10. Eha

     /  July 30, 2014

    You and I are safe, beautiful lady . . . and from my private repost you know exactly how I agree with what you have written. I cry for all but most about the innocent children who cannot understand the fear and cruelty in this world . . . with what is happening in Gaza it is so very difficult for any humanoid person to know what to say . . . we all hurt . . .

  11. Awww my friend! You already know how I feel about Gaza! <3 I know it must be terribly hard to talk about food, but bringing the attention of your readers to Gazan cuisine is important… it shows that Gaza and its people are normal people and not just a bunch of terrorists… something that some media seem to forget. You are showing the world Gaza's soul and culture and for that, you should be proud my friend! Love you! A big hug to you and your family and friends!

  12. your are doing something very beautiful despite all the hurt and pain. good luck and keep going.

  13. Lydie Samia Tucker

     /  July 30, 2014

    Hello Sawsan, I am new to your blog and wanted to say how much I like it. I am going to make Gazan dagga today. I feel so helpless with the awful situation in Gaza and would like to help. I live in France but used to live in the UAE and visited places like Lebanon. I miss the Middle East and the gracious people I was lucky to encounter there.

  14. I have been thinking a lot about you, Sawsan, and paralyzed, unable to drop you an email for total lack of ability to process what is going on. We are the lucky ones who can turn the TV off and move away. We are the lucky ones.

    You are doing a wonderful job, thank you for your write-up and sharing your thoughts with us.

  15. Another wonderful and thought provoking blog! I am going to make the salsa as I have fresh dill in my garden! Every Sunday we knee to prayer for peaceful resolutions in

  16. looks like my comment was posted incomplete when I went to walk the dogs I wanted to add .. Middle East and Ukraine for peaceful resolution..Hugs from Canada..

  17. The tragedy increases and increases, it is beyond upsetting what is happening in Gaza :(
    My heart goes out to all affected on both sides.


  18. I can feel your compassion for the innocent people affected by the conflict in Gaza through your writing. Thank you for helping me understand the enormity of the situation in such a beautiful way. Food unites people from all walks of life and I wish you and everyone in this group the best of luck in your new endeavor.

  19. thank you so much sawsan… and thank you all for the support… so proud and happy you’ve welcomed a little piece of gaza on ur tables… thank you again:)

  20. Sawsan, what is happening to Gaza makes me angry beyond words and I am half a world away. I can only imagine what it must be like for the poor people who live there. My thoughts are with them.

  21. Free Palestine …

  22. Jennie

     /  July 31, 2014

    As-salamu alaykum sister. May Allah reward you for speaking up.

  23. This is a wonderful initiative that you guys have taken here.Indeed we all feel helpless but what angers us the most is that people who aren’t helpless don’t act.This brutal nightmare has to end.Thank you for sharing this post and keep updating.Maybe a bit of compassion brought alive in all of us because of these posts may form a huge power that enables people to act against all this violence.

  24. Looks absolutely delicious!

  25. Anonymous

     /  August 5, 2014

    I like your food blog, but your grasp of history is very poor. For starters, the Egyptians had control over Gaza in 1948, and they were not kind to the Palestinians, to say the least. I am also horrified by what is happening in Gaza now, but if you don’t get your history right, you won’t get your current events right either.

    • Dear Sir/Madam,

      I research everything I write on this blog and my grasp on history is not poor. Between 1948 and 1959 there was an all Palestinian government

      The All-Palestine Government ( حكومة عموم فلسطين) was established by the Arab League on 22 September 1948. It was soon recognized by all Arab League members except Jordan. Though jurisdiction of the Government was declared to cover the whole of the former Mandatory Palestine, its effective jurisdiction was limited to the Gaza Strip.

      After the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 and the rise to power of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egyptian support for Pan-Arabism and the Palestinian cause increased.

      During the Suez War of 1956 Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. Israel eventually withdrew from the territories it had invaded, and the All-Palestine Government continued to have official sovereignty in Gaza. In 1957 the Basic Law of Gaza established a Legislative Council that could pass laws which were given to the High Administrator-General for approval.
      The situation changed again after the 1958 unification of Egypt and Syria in the United Arab Republic. In 1959, Gamal Abdel Nasser officially annulled the All-Palestine Government by decree, reasoning that the All-Palestine Government had failed to advance the Palestinian cause. At that time, Amin al-Husayni moved from Egypt to Lebanon and the Gaza Strip became to be directly administered by Egypt. In March 1962 a Constitution for the Gaza Strip was issued confirming the role of the Legislative Council. Egyptian administration came to an end in June 1967 when the Gaza Strip was captured by Israel in the Six Day War.

  26. Anonymous

     /  August 5, 2014

    This is what you originally wrote: “They [the Palestinian refugees in Gaza] were kicked out of their homes when Israel occupied Palestine in 1948.” It is incorrect. Your statement that Israel “occupied Palestine in 1948″ is a very clear indication of where you stand. You are referring to all of Israel as occupied territory. I am sorry you felt it necessary to turn your lovely food blog into a political blog.

    • My statement is perfectly correct. They were kicked out of their homes by the Israeli occupation. What you call Israel is occupied Palestinian land.
      I don’t regret telling the truth.It is the least I can do

  27. Sue

     /  August 10, 2014

    I am thrilled to have stumbled across your blog, as I adore Arabic food.
    The situation in Gaza is heart breaking! I am angry that something isn’t being done to STOP the barbaric Israeli Zionists! May God send them to where they deserve to be!

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