Sunday, January 10, 2010

Qahwah (Arab Coffee)

Nothing defines Arab hospitality more than the offering and taking of coffee.Coffee is the main drink in the Arab world. Though the Ottoman Turks embraced and spread it throughout thier empire giving it the name "turkish coffee", it actually has its origins in Yemen.The cultivation of coffee began in Yemen sometime around the 16th century.It first became popular with the dervishes in Yemen where it was said it helped them perform thier religious ceremonies then muslim spread it throughout the Middle East.

Coffee is the principal social drink for men.This is clearly evident throughout the coffeehouses of the Arab world.Hours are spent in the coffeehouses socializing,playing backgammon, or smoking the narghileh(water pipe)while drinking coffee.Coffee is also consumed while conducting business or bargaining.

To make Arab coffee a few essential things are required.Mocha beans from Yemen are prefered but if these cannot be found, coffee beans from Brazil or Kenya are an appropriate substitute.Two dallahs (a coffee pot with a long, curved spout)are neededso it can be brewed in the first and poured in the second. The coffeee beans need to be freshly roasted and ground to a very fine powder.And a cardamon pod added to the pot.When serving, only about 1/3 of the cup is filled.The serving cups are small and handle-less.Milk, cream , or sugar is never added to Arab coffee instead dates may be offered.

There is a ritualized etiquette involved in the offering and consumption of coffee.First, all guests are offered coffee, not to offer it is akin to being considered unwelcomed.Once offered, it must never be refused,to do so would be a great insult to your host.Your cup will be refilled a second or third time, to accept more is considered impolite.It is always accepted with the right hand.When you have had sufficient,jiggle your empty cupslightly from side to side.There is an order to serving it.Persons of high rank or the male head of the household are served first,followed by older guests, and men before women.

Yeild:6-8 Servings


4 c water

3 Tbsp. cardamon, ground

2 Tbsp.Arabic coffee, ground

1. Bring water to a boil.

2. Add coffee to the water and bring to a boil over low heat for 5 minutes.

3. Add the cardamon and heat for another 2 minutes.

4.Remove from heat and serve 1/3 full in demitasse cups.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi!
    In Saudi Arabia, our mixed shift of Arabs and Westerners love to drink Arabic coffee.
    We don't have a cooking ring to use so we add the coffee/cardamom mix to a flask and let it brew.
    There is a magic ingredient we use to give the coffee some flavour and that is a commercially available powder (sold in a blue and white container) called Qassim.
    I don't know what is in this Qassim mix but it makes the coffee tastes soooooo good!
    For every dessert spoon of coffee/cardamom mix going into the flask we add a tiny egg-spoon of Qassim.
    We also add a pinch of Saffron threads. Delicious!
    Mike, Dhahran, KSA