Kurdish women produce the famous “Tahini paste” in a historical-old stone mill.
The centuries-old stone mill in the village of Narlı (Biyadir) in Çukurca district of Turkey’s eastern province of Hakkari (Colemerg) is a very rare example of mills that work with water.
The mill is one of the very few production facilities that produce the region’s famous “Çukurca Tahini”, that region’s famous local taste called “Çukurca Tahini”, which is a special paste produced from the sesame.
Another unique characteristic of the centuries-old mill is that the workers consist mostly of women.
Ayten Demir, one of mill workers explained the stages of tahini-making and the women’s labour in all stages of production to Jin News.
The journey of sesame to become tahini
”There is women’s labour at every stage of sesame seed’s journey,” said Demir.
Sesame seeds planted in May are harvested after a 3-month blooming and growing period. Then, it is kept in water for a day and the women seperate it’s seeds. The sesame then rises to the surface of the water.
The sesame seeds are then first rotated in a machine and then roasted for about an hour in stone ovens over a wood fire by the women at the mill.
Then the roasted sesame is kept, waiting to be cooled, it is cleaned and brought to a century-old stone mill to produce tahini.
Demir shared that producing this local taste was a family tradition that she inherited.
“The mill has worked continuously for years with the enormous efforts and labour of the local working women. We inherited this tradition from our grandmothers. We put a lot of effort into this work,” she said.
She explained the hardships of working in the mill:
“We wake up early in the morning and do it until 2am the following morning. A tin of tahini comes out of two cans of sesame seeds” she said.