About Razan Masri

I love exploring, researching, finding and sharing. I love to learn and to teach, I love to live and to laugh, I wish to speak to the world as an Arab Woman using the most beautiful language through photographs and writing.

Fez

Old Market, Nazareth, Palestine.

I captured this man during my first visit to Nazareth, walking between the authentic Arab Market.

His red tarboush (fez) is what caught my attention.

To me, it resembles unity.

Not a very long time ago, many men from this region wore the fez on top of their heads.

Today, we are a region more segregated than ever.

Our accents are now what differentiate us.

This is how divided we have become.

But this man, who currently lives in the occupied areas of Palestine (Israel) chose to keep his tarboush on top of his head.

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Sunset Diaries

And to every end a journey, and to every journey an end.

Our Mother, Amman

By The amphitheater, downtown, Amman, Jordan.

A grass design that says ‘Our Mother, Amman’ with the Jordanian flag on the back left corner, and a street swiper, swiping the dust at the front right corner.

This photograph speaks to me a thousand words.

Without him, what will this image look like? Does he know the worth of his contribution? Or does he see this side of his image in my photograph? How much contribution do we need to do for his self-realization?

How Changing One Thing In Our Routine, Can Lighten Us Up.

Yesterday I posted on my instagram asking people what they do first thing in the morning.

The answers I got were mostly the usual things of opening our eyes, looking at our phones, heading for a shower. One different answer was, doing 3 yoga poses in bed which I thought must be a really good thing to try and do (if you are interested in yoga).

I sometimes feel it is always good to give our routine a change, an upbeat, something a little more ordinary to add on something new to our day, to our minds, and our attitude to life.

Some ideas I can throw in here are; watering your plants, doing a little prayer, kissing your loved awake or still asleep, meditating, or writing your morning pages.

Writing Morning Pages was my answer on my instagram in response to my question. It has been introduced to me a few years ago first, through a leadership camping training in Switzerland and second, in my writing group club in Amman. The former was used as a method to reflect and write at any time of the day on an empty page without thinking, just writing, letting all our feelings go into writing. And the later was taken from the book ‘The Artist Way’ and is done first thing in the morning, every day, religiously. It is a method to clear our minds and set our attitude positively to our day by using positive affirmations, positive thoughts, and goals.

Nothing is necessary for writing our Morning Pages, nothing is right or wrong, and no one needs to read them. They can be private or can be torn apart if it makes you feel more comfortable, but the idea is to write everything down every morning, first thing in the morning. Let it all out on empty pages. It is a great new start of the day.

They helped me make new self-realization, reflection, understand feelings, hidden thoughts, aspirations, dreams, neglect, it is just a very great way to understand oneself better, put what is unimportant aside on the pages, and put what we wish to attain from self-motivation on paper to remind us of our basic goals and dreams. Be gentle to my self, today, be gentle to everyone I encounter, smile, be graceful, walk with grace, speak with grace, listen with grace, give, with no expectations, no judgments, live, freely, loudly, happily, share, your dreams, and your love, be generous to yourself and to others… and this is how it goes.

I hope this blog post helps us live more positive. If you do have your own tip to share for a morning ritual, please comment and share.

The Lemon Tree – Based on a True Story

This is a book review

The plan was to read a completely different book for the month of May. However, I had to scheme through this book for some work I am undertaking and found myself captivated. I tried to fast read it within three days, but the more I read, the more I found myself slowing down and reading full pages.

The Lemon Tree is a wonderful book about a true Palestinian Israeli conflict. Different than the book I read in April, this book zooms into one significant story that took place in Palestine/Israel, and brings to us the sorrowful truth of the current situation.

The story has two main characters; obviously, one is Palestinian and the other is a Jewish Israeli who is originally from Bulgaria. The Palestinian man, is someone I myself have interviewed and therefore, I have pre knowledge of the story only from his side, whereas the book, is a complete research made from both sides. However, the story I know, is the same story written with differences in some details. I could not possibly say my version of the story is the exact one, for it is not so much different. Besides, memory, translation, and personal reflection, can always differ, from storytelling, to story-comprehending.

The author,  Sandy Tolan, includes in his book a flash back to pre 1948, when Bashir (the Palestinian man) was living in the house his own father has built, while Dalia (the Jewish woman)s parents decided to make Aliyah (immigration) to Palestine in response to Ben-Gurion repeated call in 1945, demanding at least three million Jews to make Aliyah within the next five years. Dalia’s parents, decided to make their move in 1948, when Dalia was only a year old, while Bashir, who was about five years old, was forcibly expelled along with his family from his home, his city, and his country.

The story, recites the transition, where Bashir went, and how Dalia moves to his empty house. It later encounters their first meeting, when Bashir went to visit his house for the first time in 1967, and since then, their conflicted relationship begins, bringing to us facts behind the conflict, that any two people from both sides will encounter, from misunderstandings, differences, and the possible will and want to finding peace and comprehension.

In this world, we all have similarities, but we can only find them when we open the door to one another. Dalia, opened the door to Bashir, and Bashir accepted the door open and entered. They both created a relationship, that reflects the Palestinian/Israeli conflict from a human based experience.

I believe The Lemon Tree book succeeded, to bring forth an adequate way to comprehend how the conflict is foreseen from both sides. The book might not articulate a 360 degree coverage of both situations, but it nonetheless, collects enough information to bring forth, the struggle and survival factors of individuals who decide to live the conflict. And I use the word ‘decide’, because it is a decision to make to live life with open eyes, rather than to shut them, and live without noticing the apparent struggle. Nonetheless, the Palestinians, whom in this conflict are the oppressed, might not always have the luxury of the choice to decide.

How to make a Middle Eastern Okra Stew

Cooking Middle Eastern food, can get confusing. Every home makes Middle Eastern food differently. There is not like a one recipe used by everyone. But instead, the same dish everyone knows is made differently from one household to another.

Today, I am sharing the dish that I have made for the very first time yesterday. It is a very popular dish amongst the Arabs, the Arabs from the Levant; Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. Bamieh. I would love to hear feedback from your side if you do make Bamieh. Where are you from? How different do you make your Bamieh from the recipe I will be sharing below?

Bamieh is the Arabic word for Okra, and once we say Okra, we all know what dish we are talking about. Cooked with beef mostly, some tend to prefer it vegetarian like myself. But the recipe I am sharing with you is by my mother.

bamieh, okra, tomato, stew

My mother is an amazing cook. Honestly, not because she is my mother, but she is so good. The only difficulty I face with her when I collect her recipes, is how bad she is in sharing ingredients, because like most Arab mothers, they only work with sight  and sense. They do not follow specific steps, they rather cook their dishes naturally.

The Bamieh I made yesterday, I must admit, turned out a little dull. Tasteless in comparison to how my mother makes it. And it is because I did not follow her steps. I wanted to cook it vegetarian, so I did not have any stock, and when I was advised to used ready cubes, I hesitated and used half a cube.  So I turned out having an Okra stew that required a lot of salt and pepper.

Okraintomatoes

However, in this recipe shared today, I will be adding beef stock, and if you prefer to go vegetarian like me, then I do recommend you do add fresh tomatoes, and cube stoke.  Some people garnish their dish with coriander cooked in garlic, others use basil like my mother.

Some people saute onions, garlic and fresh tomatoes withe Okra before adding boiled water. This can also be a better option for those who prefer their Okra vegetarian, and here is a quick how to do it:

In a sauce pan, add olive oil, onions and saute, then add garlic and Okra and saute some more, add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and spices (salt, pepper, mixed pepper, dried coriander) and saute, then add your beef stock, chicken stock or veggies stock, and leave to boil).

However, if you do follow the steps below, your Bamieh should turn out delicious. Remember, it is all about your tomato sauce that you need creativity it. Okra tastes fantastic if you love it, since many people I know hate it. I feel like with Okra, it is a love hate relationship, and nothing in between. I personally love how it melts in my mouth when I do have it. So all you need is the right steps for a good tomato sauce.

Bamieh

Here is my Mother’s own classic recipe:

via Bamieh – طبيخ بامية

Ramadan’s Favorite Sambosek Recipe

So if you do fast Ramadan, Sambosek is essential on the Iftar table for some reason.

The Middle Eastern or Levantine version of the Sambosek is a little different than the Asian one.

We usually have two types:

Minced Beef or Cheese

Sambosek-Ramadan2018

Now to each home a unique recipe is put together to form the Sambosek to individual taste.

In my house, with my family we never actually made Sambosek, my mother was not a big fan of frying. However, today, many people are substituting frying with oven baking, and this is how I cooked my Sambosek which can be both fried and oven baked.

So this year, I decided to take the recipe from those who make it, my mother in law, and my uncle’s wife.

The minced beef is usually mixed with onions and roasted pine nuts, whereas the cheese can be used as desired, some people use one kind of cheese, and anything really should work, I on the other hand, got my hands on an amazing recipe, which I will be sharing below.

Sambosek-Side-Dish

So, there you go, I will now share the recipes to both Sambosek, and please let us know how they turn out.

Tip: Always have your Sambosak dough covered in ziplock or fabric while preparing, to keep it from drying, which will make it easily break after.

For full recipe click Sambosek