Artistry of Jam: Q&A with Namliyeh
As part of our aim to support local businesses, products and startups - we'd like to introduce you to Namliyeh & share this interview with them to help you understand the concept and how it came to life.
Published in Vivmag March 2014 - Photos by Mukhtar Al Zayed
Manal Abushmais and Aya Shaban, founders of Namliyeh, the jam maker, talked to VIVMAG about renovating the lovely shop in Weibdeh, using natural ingredients and supporting
Why did you choose the name, Namliyeh?
Namliyeh is an Arabic word derived from the word for ant (namleh). It is the word for a well-stacked cupboard that was used to store food jars away from ants before electricity, but
remains today in some households. We didn’t set out with this name. It just happened as we were brainstorming names related to ants. We love ants, hardworking tiny creatures with an inspiring design skill – they also love sugar!
Is it solely a jam shop?
We wanted to create a shop that promotes sustainable living, and which is simple and inspiring. We wanted to make everything from scratch: the renovation of the shop, the design of the furniture pieces, right down to the smallest detail in every packaged item. We like to think of Namliyeh as an experience that brings together like-minded people from different fields, working together responsibly with the common goal of creating a harmonious self-sufficient community.
We started with artisan jam making to fully capture this experience, focusing on the process and relation between our suppliers and clients. We celebrate this spirit in every handmade jam jar we craft.
Who designed the shop in Jabal Al Weibdeh and what was the idea behind it?
The shop was a wreck; it was in such bad shape no one wanted to rent it and go through the trouble of fixing it. But we loved it at first sight and jumped at the chance to renovate it.
We crafted the shop entirely from reclaimed materials, mostly found on site or gathered along the way. The place is tiny, but we still believed we could squeeze in all our big dreams in it. The design is minimal with special attention to detail, texture and usability. The result is a rough interior that is genuine and speaks to the senses.
What ingredients do you use in your jams?
We use just-ripe, handpicked fruit to ensure the highest quality and the best texture. All our jams are 100 per cent natural and free of any additives or preservatives, carefully processed to extract natural flavors and sugars.
You support local farmers – why do you find that to be important?
We work with local farmers to get the real freshness of the produce, along with the added benefit of being able to support the local economy. It is important for us to do our part to help ensure that these farmers can continue their local growing operations, encouraging the use of available local farmland. We try to source ingredients as directly as we can, featuring produce that is grown both locally and naturally. The fruit and vegetables do not need to travel very far, bypassing middlemen and transportation, meaning that the farmer receives full retail value of his harvest instead of only a fraction.
Is it easy to get organic produce?
We try to feature at least one organic fruit each season. It is not easy to find organic sources for all our ingredients. The farm in Jerash which supplies us with organic lemons belongs to a friend, and that’s mostly how we source: through a network of friends and family.
A lot of the fruit we use comes from small backyards and home gardens, these trees are usually not looked after and left to grow organically, producing much more than one household could possible use. We are interested in community building and getting people involved in the process rather than just going through the motions of source, preserve and sell. Even when it’s not organic, small farms tend to be less aggressive than large factory farms when it comes to their use of chemicals, they also tend to grow more variety protecting biodiversity and paying attention to the quality of the soil to ensure long-term food security.
How do you decide which jams to make in different seasons?
Eating local also means eating seasonally. We select our jam varieties in tune with what’s available locally to ensure peak qualities of freshness, nutrition and taste. We buy fruit harvested at the very peak of its flavour, and preserve it within a few days to retain the nutritional content. The taste quality is superior than at other outlets where the produce get damaged, bruised and refrigerated.
Namliyeh offers a palette of exciting flavor combinations to suit every taste. Fruit pairing captures the spirit of the season, and we feature herbs and spices from all over the world. We find inspiration from traditional plants, medicinal herbs and wild flowers.