Khabeesa

Ark of taste
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Khabeesa is a sweet made from the juice of Salti Grapes, sweet yellowish green grapes grown in El Balqa region. Salti grapes had their origin in Al-Salt city, capital of Balqa Governorate. Because of the abundance of grape production in the city, food production of Salti grapes-based products also flourished. According to interviews within the local community, Khabeesa production technique was passed to them from previous generations and is part of the culinary heritage. In the research Agriculture in the Levant during the Umayyad period (661-750 AD), it was mentioned that Malban/Khabeesa was known in the Levant, including Al-Balqa during that time. Other old records show that in the 1930s Khabeesa as a product was sold and transported to Palestine and the southern part of Jordan.
Making Khabeesa is connected to the custom of picking and preparing the grapes. Families used to relocate during the season and camp in tents at the grapevines to harvest the vines. Locals have many memories about the times where they used to relocate, work hard and celebrate the season. After the harvest the entire family gets involved in preparing Khabeesa, as making it is intensive work that requires the family collaboration in juicing, cooking and drying the product. Very few families still hold this tradition, that is in decline as the production of the grapes itself is in decline. The tradition also changed, they no longer relocate from their original houses to the grapevines, as now they have means of transportation. They just transfer the grapes yield and process it in their houses.
The production technique is traditional and is still practiced until this day. The grapes are squeezed by hands, and then strained and cooked in large pots on wood fire, once it boils; whole wheat flour is added and stirred until the mixture thickens. Sesame and/or Hab Kriesh (please refer to Pinus Halepensis Mill. / Aleppo Pine Data Sheet) are added to it (nowadays some producers may add other ingredients such as walnuts and anise). The mixture is then poured on clean cloths and spread to form thin layers. The cloth is hanged and left out to dry in the sun. Once is dry, the cloth is moistened with water and peeled off. The final product is made into thin layers that are cut and folded into rectangles. It has a sweet flavour with a hint of sourness. Khabeesa is then folded and preserved in a cool dry place to be consumed during winter.
Khabeesa is normally made for self-consumption. Families that own vineyards process the grapes into Khabeesa and distribute or sell the product directly to relatives and friends. Some minimal production reaches the market, to small artisanal shops for edible and medicinal spices and herbs.

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Territory

StateJordan
Region

Balqa

Other info

Categories

Cakes, pastries and sweets