Circassian Charity Association: Home to Jordan's Circassian community

Inside Samawer Restaurant. (Photo: Huda Dabeet/Jordan News)
Inside Samawer Restaurant. (Photo: Huda Dabeet/Jordan News)
AMMAN – Since 1932, the Circassian Charity Association has served as a stalwart for a nation that originates from the North Caucasus.اضافة اعلان

Known among themselves as Adyghe, the Circassian people, who were forcibly exiled to the Middle East in the mid-19th century, established the association as a civil society organization. Since its foundation, it has been on a mission to preserve and pass on Circassian history, culture, and identity.

(Photo: Huda Dabeet/Jordan News)

The association has seven branches — including the women’s branch — that span across Jordan, operating in areas like Jerash, Naour, and Wadi Al-Seer.

“The Circassian Charity Association is the home to all Circassians in Jordan,” said Mazhar Barsaiq, who was visiting the association on Tuesday.

Barsaiq said that the association organizes recreational and educational activities, such as bazars and traditional dance lessons.

Arafat Hakouz, another visitor at the Circassian Charity Association, told Jordan News that the association connects all members of Jordan’s Circassian community and encourages Circassian youth to learn their language, culture, and traditions.

Traditional Circassian pastries, haliva and laqum. (Photo: Handout from Samawer Kitchen)

“The association, through its various activities, reflects Circassian heritage and focuses on educating the new generation about the importance of respecting women in Circassian society,” Hakouz said.

The Samawer Kitchen, a subsidiary of the association’s women's branch, is all at once a kitchen, a catering company, and a restaurant that serves an array of Circassian, Mediterranean, and international dishes.

Located near the 7th circle, the kitchen is named after the Samovar, a tea brewing kettle that is widely used by Circassians. Traditional dishes are prepared in Samawer Kitchen to preserve Circassian cuisine.

Ships w Pasta, one of the most famous Circassian dishes in Jordan and across the world, is a hearty walnut gravy served with chicken and rice and bulgur patties. The walnut gravy, known to Circassians as Ships, is drizzled with Shibjidagha — a spicy, oil-based sauce.

(Photo: Huda Dabeet/Jordan News)

Haliva, a fried triangular turnover, is a staple of Circassian cuisine. Closely resembling sambusek, albeit much larger in size, haliva is stuffed with either potatoes or Circassian cheese and seasoned with chili powder.

Laqum is another popular fried Circassian pastry that the local community indulges in. It is a sweetbread that is often served with haliva over tea.

“Both Circassians and Arabs in Jordan enjoy Circassian traditional food,” said Amera Yadaj, a chef at Samawer Kitchen.

Yadaj added that Samawer Kitchen started with only five women in 1971. With time, it was able to hire more cooks and move to a much larger space.

“We want to keep Circassian cuisine and recipes alive,” she said. “We don't want future generations to forget about them. We are constantly educating people about how to make these delicacies so that they can be preserved for future generations.” 

Additionally, Yadaj mentioned, the association works to support the local community by improving the lives of women and children in areas such as education and employment. It organizes fundraising projects, preserves and promotes Circassian heritage and culture, and aids impoverished households. Money earned by the kitchen mainly goes towards Circassian educational and cultural projects, she said.

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