Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bedouin Coffee

( Arabic: Qahwah Saadah ) pronounced Ahwah Sadah

Serving coffee to visitors is an age old custom derived from Bedouin hospitality traditions and an important part of  Arab generosity. The ritual of coffee serving is called gawha and is bound by rules of etiquette. 

 In the presence of his guests, the host will roast, cool and grind the beans. Using a mortar and pestle ( Mehbaj ), he will add cardamom pods in equal or more measure to the coffee beans during the grinding process.
When the coffee is brewed, the host pours for his guests - traditionally only men. Unsweetened, fresh dates, a staple in the Bedouin diet, are served with the coffee.
The Bedouins have a saying that translates to ... "he makes coffee from morn till night." It is a way of describing a generous man, and no greater praise can be given.
Variously known as Qahwah Saadah (Bedouin coffee), this brew comes to us through the mists of time. It's flavored with cardamom - sometimes called Grains of Paradise - and optionally with sugar.  

It is usually served in decorative glasses, or in small Qahwah Fingan, coffee cups.
                                                               Qahwah Fingan

There are as many varied recipes as there are Bedu tribes to serve them.  

The Coffee Blend
1.  1 lb. of non-flavored coffee (Mocha Java, Kenyan, Tanzanian) 
medium or dark roast Turkish grind (very fine)
2.  4-5 tbsp of ground cardamom . The cardamom should be mixed 60% to 40% coffee in the mix.

Mix well (shaking the blend in a sealed plastic container mixes the cardamom into the coffee thoroughly)

Making the coffee

1.  Water – 3 oz per serving cup into the Kanaka(Egyptian) Ibrik (Arabic) or coffee pot.
                              Bedouin Kanaka/Ibrik

2.  coffee blend – 1 tbsp per serving cup
3.  1 tsp sugar per serving cup
4.  2 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
5.  saffron threads – 3 per serving cup (optional)
Put water in an ibrik or Turkish coffee pot. Add sugar and coffee blend.  
Do not stir!!!!.

There are three boils:
1. First, bring to a rousing boil.  Remove from heat before brew boils over.  Let stand for 3-4 minutes. 

2. Replace on reduced heat and slow boil for 10 min.

3. Just prior to serving, bring back to rousing boil then remove from heat just before boiling over.

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