Up close and personal with Chef Hala Alamareen (and why she thinks Jordanian fast foods are the best!)


Kunefeh, a traditional middle eastern dessert. 

Chef Hala Alamareen is the latest addition to Palate Sensations’ roster of chefs. Teaching Middle Eastern cuisine, Chef Hala is bringing to Singapore her traditional recipes while using locally sourced ingredients that deliver the same authentic cultural flavours she grew up in.

Who knew Singapore would have authentic middle eastern recipes ingredients within its backyard? Contrary to your guesses, these ingredients are available in many markets and shops besides Mustafa!

Born and raised in Jordan her whole life, it was inevitable for Chef Hala to have been exposed to Middle Eastern Cuisine including those originating from neighbouring Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine.  

There’s little wonder how Chef Hala found her way back to her first love – cooking – from being a banker and make-up model for a good part of her professional career.

“I love cooking! I started cooking when I studied at university and lived away from home. I elevated the recipes I inherited from my mum,” she says.

Chef Hala Alamareen teaches Middle Eastern cuisine.

When she came to Singapore with her husband and two kids a couple of years ago, Chef Hala said it was not easy to find Middle Eastern cuisine that possessed the same traditional flavours she grew up with as a child.

While Italian, French, and Eurasian cuisines are very much in vogue and integrated in Singaporeans’ palates, Middle Eastern is lesser-known in the cosmopolitan island city despite being a melting pot of cultures.

That’s when Chef Hala decided to bring Middle Eastern cooking to Singapore.

“I couldn’t find a better place to do that than in Palate Sensations because it is well equipped and it’s the right place to begin my journey as a chef in Singapore,” she says.

Umm Ali, another traditional Middle Eastern dessert with nuts, milk, and oats.

Finding ingredients was a challenge at first, and Chef Hala faced this by doing the rounds in Singapore’s multitude of markets and spice shops herself. This, she says, is the unique gift she is giving her students – she did the homework herself on where to find the best lamb, the best spice, the right ingredients.

“After finding the ingredients in the market, I was able to design my menu. Other chefs would take this task easier because the ingredients were more available, but I had to search a lot. In the end I am very proud to introduce all the delicious recipes here at Palate Sensations.”

Some of these dishes and desserts include the kunefeh, a traditional Jordanian dessert that is the centrepiece of most celebrations including weddings and birthdays.

“People now know what is kunefeh, what is baklava, and what is Umm Ali which is a must in Jordanian buffet!”

But are Middle Eastern dishes easy to make?

Chef Hala says that is one of the biggest surprises in making Middle Eastern dishes and desserts – they look and taste overwhelmingly good and yet ironically, they take relatively lesser effort to make.

This brings her to boldly declare that Jordan has the best street food in the world!

Street foods are fun to eat comfort food that are supposedly easy, fast, and hassle-free to make. However, fast food and street food may not always offer the best quality of taste and quantity of nutrition.

Well, not if it was Jordanian street food.

Chef Hala says shawarma, kebab, olives and bread do wonders to the soul and stomach than burgers and fries do!

Bringing Middle Eastern cultural food is an epic story, Chef Hala says.

“What I want people to think about when they hear Jordanian food is that it is very easy to make. Preparing these dishes don’t require a long list of spices and condiments. It depends on fresh herbs, which elevate the dishes, including thyme parsley, and using fresh vegetables. We don’t use frozen vegetables; fresh vegetables elevate the dish. We also use lamb a lot, and from the Aqaba region where they use fish more often than lamb.”

“I’m looking forward to attendees re-doing the dishes they learned in class when they invite friends, and they can easily replicate the recipes,” she says.

Sign up for Chef Hala's classes here.

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