Nablus is the Arabicized name of the original Roman city Neapolis built more than 2,000 years ago. The city has a rich history that has included Byzantines, Persians, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, Bosniaks, Samaritans, Jews, Muslims and Christians. Several of these groups and many of their descendants still live in Nablus. Set beautifully in a valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, the city is renowned for its olive oil, kanafeh, cheese and soap. Today, Nablus is the second largest city in the West Bank.
As the story goes, there were two brothers. One tall and thin, the other bulkier and stronger. This second brother came to be known as al-Aloul which in the local dialect among Palestinian peasants meant the one “built like a bull”. Many many years later, two more brothers, Omar and Rushdi Aloul, would establish the Aloul Family Company. It would become officially registered in 1918 and feature the “deek” (Arabic for rooster) as its brand. The business had originally produced soap, tahini, halawa and qizha, of which only the latter three continue to this day.
Tahina, tehina, or tahini is a creamy condiment made from ground sesame seeds. It is a staple food sauce in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly in the Levant and Turkey, and is a significant ingredient in hummus, baba ghanoush and halawa. Tahini also packs a nutritious punch! It is low in sodium, high in protein and contains a notable percentage of potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. The versatile sauce is both vegetarian and vegan-friendly and can be added to sweet and savory dishes. Since 1918, the Aloul Company has produced tahini which has since become a household product around the world.
Entrance to Nablus, lithograph by David Roberts (1839)