As Qandeel founder, Irene Botto and her husband began renovating their old city home to build an extended kitchen for the project, they came upon a qandeel (“lantern”) lying amidst the rubble of what once formed a part of their family home. Apart from its many uses, chiefly that it was placed at the entryways of homes in the old days to light the way for night passersby, the qandeel became a symbol of resilience after Hasan Mustafa lit lanterns across his village of Battir to ward off would be intruders during the 1948 war. Taking the qandeel as a good omen, Irene and her husband named their project Qandeel to symbolize resilience—the potential for light amidst darkness, the hearth that serves as home when one is a stranger in a new land. In this spirit of welcoming, Qandeel exists as a dialogue between past and present, a crossroads where home and visitor meet to share in the most simple of all forms of human care…home-cooked hospitality.
Through its culinary experience, Qandeel offers visitors an elevated understanding of Bethlehem and its people, sharing our unique cultural identity through food and fellowship. Our desire is for visitors to be more than an anonymous guest in our beautiful city, but to become a member of the Qandeel family and to truly feel connected to the life force of our close-knit community.
Qandeel offers a gastronomic adventure that takes visitors on a journey through local markets, invites them to share the kitchen of a local family, to prepare a communal meal, and to enjoy authentic homemade Palestinian cuisine together with a glass of local wine. Through this experience, visitors will not only discover Palestinian ingredients and cooking methods, but will learn firsthand about daily life in a Palestinian home.
Our rendezvous point is at Qandeel, located on Star Street, the route of the Patriarchs in the historical center of Bethlehem, which was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. You will be in the heart of the old Ottoman city and a just stone’s throw away from the traditional marketplace, Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity.