Chai and Kawa


My in-laws are a loving and lively bunch that I very much enjoy visiting.  Family functions typically involve playing cards, gossiping about whatever family member is not in the room and drinking copious amounts of chai (tea) and kawa (coffee).

Though I confess an addiction to American coffeehouse Chai drinks these concoctions while different are deeply satisfying.

Tea (chai)

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, in a thermal carafe of some kind, put three to four bags of black tea (whatever plain kind you like) and five cardamom pods that you’ve cracked just slightly so the water gets inside the pods.  Pour the water into the carafe and let stand for 6-8 minutes to steep before serving. This tea will be very strong. Serve in small cups with lots of sugar or sweetener.

Moroccan Mint Tea

I got addicted to this on a trip to Marrakesh and it’s a favorite of mine in the summertime.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, in a thermal carafe of some kind, put three to four bags of green tea (whatever plain kind you like) and a bag of mint tea or some fresh or dried mint leaves.  Pour in the water and let stand for 6-8 minutes to steep. This tea will also be strong but you won’t really notice until your third cup.

Variations:  You are welcome to use loose tea if you prefer.  That was how it was done when I first had these tea drinks.  I’ve switched to tea bags because they make it easier to clean the carafe.  When we did use loose tea, I had a french coffee press that I used to make the tea, giving me all of the flavor and less of the mess.  However, some folks like having the tea leaves swirl in the cup and then settle to the ground.  If this is you, enjoy.

Arabic Coffee (kawa)

Grind your favorite unflavored coffee beans with a few cardamom pods to a very powdery, espresso grind (about 15 seconds in a coffee grinder usually does it).  Put a few tablespoons of the ground coffee mixture in the bottom of a metal pitcher or  saucepan that you fill 3/4 full with water (I figure about a tablespoon of coffee for every half-cup of water).  Put the pitcher on a burner and bring to a boil until the coffee and foam start to rise to the very top of the pitcher.  Take off the burner and let settle a bit. Serve in espresso cups, also with sugar if you like that.

My mother-in-law “read” coffee grounds.  If you want to do this yourself, when you finish your kawa, you’ll have some grounds left in the cup.  Put the saucer on top of the cup and, turning it towards you, quickly flip the whole thing upside down.  Let the cup drain into the saucer for a few minutes.  Turn over the cup and see what shapes you see in the grounds.  Impress your friends with your fortune-telling abilities.

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About aecsarah

I've been working in marketing for architects, interior designers, engineers and contractors since 1997. Before that I did stints as a university professor and a radio documentary producer. In my spare time I'm a foodie and craft-ie.
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