In the ancient city of Nablus in the West Bank, Palestinians make an inky black version of tahini called qizha that’s just about impossible to source outside of the region. Finding it has become a minor personal obsession.
When I came to the West Bank, I didn’t know that I would leave with an obsession for a rare, ink-black paste known as qizha.
Last year’s publication of The Gaza Kitchen introduced many readers to the flavorful roasted “red tahini” used in Gaza, but almost nothing has been written about Nablus’ mysterious “black tahini,” or qizha (‘izha in local accent) made from ground nigella seeds, poetically called hubbat al-baraka, or “seeds of blessing” in Arabic. Versions of and recipes for “black tahini” using black sesame seeds exist, but this is something altogether different. With an appearance like jet-black molasses, qizha is more intensely flavored than the beige tahini most of us are familiar with. There are onion-y and minty accents, as well as a certain intriguing sweetness.