Za’atar by the Nahle Family

Product: Za’atar
Producer: The Nahle Family, “Spices of the Galilee”
Location: Ilabun, Western Galilee

The Nahle family is a producer of herbs from Ilabun, a village in the Western Galilee. Their traditional, authentic, high-quality za’atar is sold by Sindyanna of Galilee.

The Nahle family from the village of Ilabun in the Western Galilee runs a family business of herbs. The father, Khabib Nahle, worked most of his life as a male nurse in a hospital. Over 20 years ago, he decided to open a small za’atar marketing business that would better his family’s income. Relying solely on his family’s knowledge of growing za’atar that has been passed on from generation to generation, without the family’s lands that no longer belonged to them following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Khabib resorted to leasing lands from the neighboring village of Mg’ar. He began with a 15 acre za’atar field that thrived thanks to appropriate irrigation made possible through the water allocation and relevant permit obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Ten years later, water allocations were reduced to a point which severely damaged the quality of the crops. Finally, after struggling with pressure to cut down prices by za’atar merchants, Khabib was forced to close his business, leaving him with a broken heart and endless debts.

In 2000, several years after the family business had been shut down, Khabib’s wife, Fatina Nahle, decided to take on the challenge. She reopened the family business under the name “Spices of the Galilee”. Some of the za’atar is grown by her, yet most of it is bought from farmers in the region. Fatina picks, dries, cleans, and grinds the za’atar leaves.

She is assisted by her eldest son, Nipho who came back home after his graduation to assist his mother in reviving the business under their slogan of “Quality Above All”. Ever since, customers have been coming from afar to purchase their authentic, high quality za’atar, rather than the fake za’atar that dominates the market today.

Beside za’atar, Fatina produces carob syrup, based on an ancient recipe. The carobs are harvested each year from trees that grow in the region.

In the “Spices of the Galilee” shop at the village Ilabun, one can find plenty of high quality spices, which are grown by small farmers in the region of Ilabun, then are cleaned and dried by Fatina, and finally, grinded on the spot.