Arabic coffee has a pivotal and central place in Arabic culture, as coffee was originated in the Middle East, then in Yemen and after that made its way to Egypt, then through the rest of the world. Actually the English word ‘coffee’ is derived from the Arabic word ‘qahweh’. In their local language, Arabs do not pronounce the first consonant and pronounce it as ‘ahweh’.
The rich fragrance of this Arabic coffee with the light and sweet aroma of cardamom fills the whole house. In most of the Arabic families, it is the daily ritual to have the Arabic coffee in afternoon in the whole Middle East. Nowadays, the Arabic coffee ‘qahweh’ is still presented on all the significant events like such as births, engagements, weddings and funerals. In all social gatherings after the every meal the typical coffee is served with some sweets or fruits.
Traditionally, the bitterness of the coffee depends on the nature of event I-e the sadder the event is the bitterer is the coffee. The coffee which is prepared on the funerals is usually quite dark and bitter and is made a night prior to the funeral. There are proper coffee shops in Middle Eastern countries beautifully decorated with chairs and tables and lit with traditional fluorescent lights.
The qahweh arabiyya or Arabic coffee more depends on its way of preparation, taste, scent and its flavor not on the kind. This coffee is not filtered after boiling process, it has black color while serving. If it is required to add sugar then it is added only during the process of preparation of the coffee. The Arabic coffee is boiled in a small utensil termed as ‘briq’ and then after boiling process the coffee is poured and presented into typical small delicate and beautiful cups termed as ‘fenjaan’ which don’t have handles. Usually these fenjaan or cups are made up of steel or glass. However, often the coffee is also presented into bigger and classical jug known as ‘dallah’ in front of the guests. As the coffee is prepared by host in the kitchen and served in a tray full of the small glasses with the jug. In addition, the coffee is always served in manner that it is first presented to the oldest member of family or guest then the younger ones.
However, in Turkey the typical Arabic coffee is normally intake without the sugar but nowadays several take it with small amount of sugar. Despite of this, this coffee is not sweet but a bit bitter. To compensate the bitterness of the coffee, it is mostly accompanied with some sweet thing such as sweets, dates and the other traditional accompaniments.
The coffee is mostly flavored with some green cardamoms, which is an expensive and fragranced spice. The coffee beans and cardamom are separately roasted in the oven and are then combined together for grinding it finely so that it can added in the pot for boiling and preparing. Everyone has a small secret for making the superb and delightful coffee. Some people do not buy the coffee with ground cardamom pods instead of this they purchase cardamoms separately so that they can be shelled, and the seeds of the cardamom are added in their coffee. Because don’t like the shells of the cardamom.
On the other side, the pieces of cardamom shell remained floating in the coffee usually as the Arabic coffee is not filtered. So other grounded ingredients remain in the coffee. In contrast some people filter the coffee to make it shell free, smooth and more delightful. For preparing the Arabic coffee one is required to shell the cardamom seeds before the grinding process and mixing it with roasted coffee beans.
Ingredients required for a small quantity of coffee are as below:
- One spoonful of finely ground coffee
- Some ground cardamom seeds
- Half teaspoon of sugar
- One and half cups of water
- 5-6 cloves (optional)
- One pinch saffron
Fill the pot with fresh water and heat it on the top of stove. Water should be added according to the number of servings for instance, for four servings add the cups of water six times.
Once the water is bit warm, before it has boiling temperature, add the sugar if required and stir with the help of spoon so that it can dissolve in water.
After adding the sugar add the full spoonful of the coffee in the boiling water. Add one spoonful against one serving of coffee.
As the coffee is boiling, then stir it to dissolve the layer of foam. Keep it boiling and stir it until the foam is dissolved. One done, stop stirring and off the stove as more heat is required.
Cover the pot with a lid for two minutes so that the ground ingredients of coffee settle at the bottom of the pot.
Pour the coffee in the cups gradually and do not completely fill the cup once but move the pot from cup to cup so tastiest top layer is poured in all cups first then fill them full.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Usamah Mahmood Khan is an engineering graduate from COMSATS with an interest in food, culture and socio-political issues. He tweets @UsaMahmoodKhan.