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June 25, 2017

Common Ground: Palestinian Tehina Flows from Nablus to Tel Aviv

nablus tahina in tel aviv

Some call the nutty tehina paste the Israeli ketchup, but, among Israeli chefs, Nablus is known as the centuries-old king of tehina production, and many of them swear by Nabulsi producers.

In the loud and steamy Karawan family factory on the outskirts of the second-largest West Bank city, Nablus, sesame seeds imported from Ethiopia are passing through a tall machine from Aleppo. After an arduous eight-hour process of peeling, soaking, washing and roasting, the seeds reach an 80-year-old basalt grinding stone, which slowly pulverizes and churns them into a smooth, sandy-colored paste.

The paste, known as tahini or tehina in the Middle East, is a staple for many Israelis; it’s usually mixed with lemon and water, then smeared on sandwiches, doused on falafel or combined with chickpeas to make hummus.

Some call the nutty tehina paste the Israeli ketchup, but, among Israeli chefs, Nablus is known as the centuries-old king of tehina production, and many of them swear by Nabulsi producers.

Despite numerous barriers to entering the Israeli market, a few Palestinian businesspeople have capitalized on the Israeli penchant for the best and creamiest tehina, which has lasted through two intifadas and recurring violence, forming a vibrant multimillion shekel industry.

“Israelis don’t like tehina, they love it,” says 43-year-old Ala Tamam, whose family has run the Karawan factory since 1921.

Read the full article at the Jerusalem Post

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