Ark of taste
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The name Baseesah refers to many traditional sweet dishes in Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Arab countries of North Africa, however the ingredients and processes differ from one country to another.
Baseesah is traditionally made during the wheat harvest and cold winter days. The traditional basic ingredients are Qalyet Qameh “roasted wheat”, whole wheat flour, Samnah Baladieh/local ghee and used to be sweetened with date molasses or honey, these days it is more common to use sugar as sweetener. Sometimes olive oil or Baladi butter is used instead of the Samnah according to what is available in the household at the time. It has many variations around the area, but the main ingredients remain the same.
Qalyet Qameh, the product that this dessert is based on, is whole wheat grain that is toasted and eaten as a snack by its own or mixed with roasted Butum “terebinth” and Hab Qraish “Aleppo Pine”. It used to be consumed during winter months when the family and neighbours gather around the fire, enjoying it as a winter snack with tea and coffee. However, Qalyet Qameh is now a rare snack, only consumed by the people who still grow wheat or have access to whole wheat.
it is women who usually make Baseesah and only make it for their own household consumption. Some grow their own wheat and some buy their wheat from others.
The process starts by making the roasted wheat, wherein the wheat is toasted in the traditional iron coffee roaster (a small shallow pan with a long handle) called Mehmas, held over wood fire in a pit or Kannon fire (portable fireplace). It can also be roasted in Saj (which is a thin, circular iron dish that resembles an upside-down wok, supported over the fire by three or four stones.) The roasting is complete once the grains reach a red/brownish colour. Afterwards, local ghee/ Samneh Baldieh is heated and added with some whole-wheat flour and sugar, mixed and placed in a pot called Qedreh to serve.
This type of sweets encompasses the food heritage of the area of intervention, as it is based on the local population’s main available resources; roasted wheat and whole-wheat flour, the local butter and ghee that are produced from their sheep and goat milk, infused with a mixture of wild herbs’ flowers and plants, to the olive oil pressed from their ancient trees. This dessert captures the food identity and heritage of Balqa.
Unfortunately, the knowledge and tradition of making this dessert declined dramatically and it is restricted to the elders. During the field interviews, locals stated that they no longer make this sweet, as the younger generation is not keen on eating it.

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Cakes, pastries and sweets