WORLD

Palestinian Woman Makes Special Chocolate With Local Herbs

A Palestinian woman has been making a special kind of chocolate with natural Palestinian herbs.
01 Mar 2020 09:24
Palestinian Woman Makes Special Chocolate With Local Herbs
Palestinian woman Reem Shihab makes chocolate inside her house in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Nidal Eshtayeh)

Reem Shihab, a Palestinian woman from the West Bank city of Ramallah, has been making a special kind of chocolate with natural Palestinian herbs such as sage, mint, anise, basil, thyme and rosemary.

The Palestinians usually boil these herbs in water or mix it with tea to drink. The herbs are also used as medicines to treat illnesses such as asthma, cold, and flu. But the idea of making chocolate with herbs is quite ingenious.

Palestinian woman Reem Shihab makes chocolate inside her house in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Nidal Eshtayeh)

Palestinian woman Reem Shihab makes chocolate inside her house in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Nidal Eshtayeh)

Shihab, a mother of six, told Xinhua that she makes the special chocolate by mixing flavour extracted from herbs with olive oil, cardamom and roasted coffee seeds.

She then wraps the mixture with grape leaves, which gives it a special taste.

“In my special chocolates, I use six different flavours extracted from natural herbs that are popular in Palestine,” she said, adding that she promotes her products through Facebook.

Three years ago, Shihab had gradually started her talents of making special Palestinian herbal chocolate after she passed several training courses specialised in cooking and making desserts.

Aspiring to stand out from other dessert chefs, she managed to make her special Palestinian chocolate with herbal flavours.

Shihab had lived abroad for many years before she came back to Ramallah.

“The years I lived in the diaspora had obliged me to innovate this kind of chocolate because the Palestinians who live abroad for so many years always miss anything from back home,” she said.

She tried tens of time to get the authentic flavour of the herbs before succeeding in it. Before delivering the products to customers, she would ornament her pieces of chocolate with herbal leaves, depending on the exact flavour of the piece.

Palestinian woman Reem Shihab makes chocolate inside her house in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Nidal Eshtayeh)

Palestinian woman Reem Shihab makes chocolate inside her house in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Nidal Eshtayeh)

Amid a hard living situation and high rates of unemployment in Palestine, Shihab said she sells this new kind of chocolates to feed her family. She sells each 1 kg of herbal chocolates at 30 U.S. dollars.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, unemployment rate in the Palestinian Territories have reached 38 percent among women and 21 percent among men.

Shihab also makes special kinds of herbal chocolate for people who suffer from diabetes. She adds special kinds of sugar for people with diabetes, or add less amounts of sugar to make her chocolate healthier.

Shihab dreams of establishing a factory to produce this kind of herbal chocolate and open a store, as her house has become too crowded with an increasing number of customers.

“I always have ambitions. I hope to sell the herbal chocolate not only in the Palestinian markets but also all over the world,” she said.

Palestinian woman Reem Shihab displays chocolate she made inside her house in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Nidal Eshtayeh)

Palestinian woman Reem Shihab displays chocolate she made inside her house in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Nidal Eshtayeh)

“I hope that all the Palestinians, wherever they are in the world, can taste my chocolates and feel as if they are back home in Palestine,” she added.

Taghreed Abu Salim, a Palestinian woman who owns a restaurant in Ramallah, is Shihab’s frequent customer. Abu Salim buys various kinds of herbal chocolates to add to her dessert menu.

“I have been traveling all over the world and I tasted so many kinds of chocolates, but I have never tasted such kind of herbal chocolate which is delicious,” said Abu Salim.

Shihab packs the orders of the herbal chocolate for her customers carefully and writes on every pack of chocolate “Made in Palestine.”

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