Qahwa, the true Arabian coffee

The recipe to taste the exotic fragrance of a good qahwa. If you're in a hurry, forget it, this one's not for you.

Say "Arabian coffee" and many think of Turkish coffee, but qahwa sipped in the Gulf countries is different from what you find on the streets of Istanbul. Not least because of the use of spices such as cardamom, that release exotic sensations unfamiliar to European palates.

Preparing an Arab coffee at home is not difficult: it's the ingredients, as always, that make the difference. Use only "Arabica" quality coffee "" and if you're lucky enough to be able to get fresh beans, toast them yourself in a pan. Otherwise, buy already roasted beans.

It is absolutely FORBIDDEN to use pre-ground coffee as a short cut and not just for the inevitable loss of taste. The time taken for the preparation is part of the ritual of Arabian coffee: if you are in a hurry and have some change, forget this recipe and use a vending machine.

After roasting, the beans are ground in a stone mortar, along with some cardamom seeds, until they turn into a fine powder. It's up to you to choose the ratio between coffee and cardamom, but in the beginning it is best not to overdo with the seeds. You will need one teaspoon of powder for each person.

You can add sugar and a pinch of saffron to the mix. This will bring out its typical flavour and will give the coffee a beautiful golden hue.

At this point the dallah comes into the picture, the typical tall coffee pot with a long beak. You can find it easily in ethnic shops, but if you replace it with a pot of similar shape it will hardly be a mortal sin.

Fill the dallah with water, counting a cup per person plus a half cup that will evaporate during preparation, bring to a boil and pour in the mixture. When it boils again, remove from heat, stir and bring to a boil. Repeat two or three times in order to thicken the qahwa.

If desired, instead of stirring, you can tap the bottom of the dallah. What is important is to send the mixture back up, otherwise it will stick to the bottom and give an unpleasantly burnt taste.

Take the dallah off the heat, pour into small glasses, wait for the coffe powder to deposit on the bottom and enjoy. Some pour the coffee through cardamom pods to give an even more intense flavour, but let's not complicate things further. Even if you have been drinking coffee since you were a kid, with qahwa we are all still beginners.




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