Gader Al-Badiya preserves national heritage

Gader Al-Badiya
Gader Al-Badiya products. (Photos: Handout from Gader Al Badiya)
AMMAN — Gader Al-Badiya is a project involving the Karak community in producing jameed, clarified butter and white cheese from organic ewe milk. اضافة اعلان
Karak, a governorate in the south of Jordan, is famous for its “Karaki jameed,” a dried yogurt made by salting and drying ewe milk.

The project was started by Qader Majali and his partners Hamza Haj Hassan, Ahmad Majali, and Tareq Majali, who, sensing a lack in the market, set about producing branded jameed; hence, the Gader Al-Badiya project, founded in 2018, which produces a brand of jameed, as well as locally made products like ghee and white cheese. 

Qader Majali told Jordan News that it was challenging to have branded jameed in Jordan and for its source to be known by those looking for jameed from Karak. 

Gader Al-Badiya, he said, seeks to preserve the national heritage by producing local goods; it also works to help the local community by involving it in the preparation of the products marketed by the project.

“The project started small, related to sheep grazing in Karak, in collaboration with my partner; then it evolved into the Gader Al-Badiya,” QaderMajali said. 
He added that there was no brand for Karaki jameed; there are few brands, but not from Karak. Moreover, jameed was not sold in the past, families used to produce it for their own needs. 

“Previously, jameed was produced by Jordanian families in governorates, mainly in Karak. Unfortunately, nowadays only women over the age of 45 are aware of the jameed-preparing technique,” according to Qader.

He also said that Jordan has an untapped potential for the growth of the jameed industry, which could be accomplished by utilizing the efforts and energy of unemployed local women who have extensive experience in producing jameed. Jameed Gader Al-Badiya, for example, was first produced by local women in a small factory in Karak.

“Gader Al-Badiya is now a well-known source of jameed in Jordan,” he said.
Unemployment rates are high in Jordan, and Karak, where job opportunities are low, is no exception, but skilled labor in the production of jameed is readily available, and this encouraged Gader Al-Badiya to collaborate with the local community, with the aim of supporting it at, first, but also to preserve the Jordanian heritage related to the production of jameed.

“There are no proper employment packages, so Gader Al-Badiya provides the local community with the opportunity to work in order to support them and to ensure sustainability,” he said.
‘The essential ingredient’ 

Jameed is a key element in Jordanian culture and heritage. It is the main ingredient of mansaf, the national dish of Jordan, which is usually cooked at weddings and various other occasions. Mansaf consists of rice, shrak (thin, unleavened bread), jameed, and meat.

Jordanians cook mansaf with samneh (ghee), rice, and lamb boiled in jameed rice, top it with roasted almonds and pine nuts.

Jameed, or dried yogurt, is a dairy product made in Jordan from ewe’s milk. (Photos: Handout from Gader Al Badiya)

The preparation of jameed, said Qader, has long been a part of the Jordanian cuisine.

People might not realize the impact of jameed on the local community, specifically Karak, added Majali, adding that there is no support for the production of this product.

“Jameed is the most popular product in Jordan, and it is ignored. Local production is not enough to meet consumers’ needs,” said Qader. 

In 2019, USAID was one of the initial supporters of the project, and demand for the product increased. In 2021, Gader Al-Badiya received funds from Oxfam and the European Union in order for the business to expand. 

“We can lead in this industry, and there is potential to improve it,” he stated.
‘Empowering the local community

Bandar Majali, lead jameed specialist at Gader Al-Badiya, who explained to Jordan News the traditional method of jameed production, said: “The process begins with collecting and testing the milk, which is then pasteurized and left to cool down. After that, the milk is churned to separate the butter from the buttermilk. Then, the yogurt is strained to a suitable paste, salted for a few days, and shaped into round balls,” she said.

Working with Gader Al-Badiya has had a positive impact on her family, she added, stressing that

“jameed is the most important ingredient in Jordanian mansaf, the main dish in Jordan, which represents the Jordanian heritage.”

Qader Majali said that Gader Al-Badiya’s vision is to empower and support the local community, and “Karak is the starting point. The purpose is to expand throughout the Kingdom.” 

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