In the past, Jordan was another important coffee trading country. Ships full of the precious Arabica coffee from Yemen used to dock at the Jordanian port of Aqaba. The coffee was unloaded onto the Bedouin caravan trains which travelled on to Iran and Iraq. Coffee soon became part of Jordanian culture, and even today the Bedouin tribes still prepare it in the traditional way. In the Wàdi Rum desert, coffee is drunk like this: roasted, bitter and mildly spiced, infused for 6 hours and boiled several times.
The result is a concoction known as khamìr, synonymous with hospitality and wealth, which is offered to guests during the jaha, coffee preparation ceremony. The jaha ceremony concludes with three sips, symbolising hospitality, a good welcome and happiness.
In towns and cities, where people have a Western approach to life and work, coffee breaks are left to the ‘coffee boy’, an employee whose task is merely to prepare the coffee and entertain the company’s clients and managers. The coffee boy is an expert in all types of coffee — Arab, Turkish or espresso — and his kingdom is a room equipped with a small hob, a sink, cupboards and everything he needs to perform his duties.
Qahwa sada - Bedouin coffee
200 g (7 oz) of green coffee
10 g (0.3 oz) of green cardamom
Roast the green coffee beans over a moderate flame, constantly turning them with a spoon until they turn dark brown. Pound the coffee in a wooden mortar. Place 20 teaspoons of the coffee into a 1 litre (35 oz) jug of boiling water. Place the jug on the stove and boil for at least twenty minutes over a low flame. Meanwhile, crush the cardamom seeds in the mortar and place 1 heaped teaspoon in an Arabic coffee pot which is then to be filled with the previously boiled coffee.
Place everything back on the stove over a low flame. Bring to the boil again for a few seconds and serve without adding sugar. The dose of cardamom can be increased up to a proportion of two parts coffee to one part cardamom, and the infusion time can also be extended.
Knafè bl Jibn - Thin toasted spaghetti with sugar syrup and cheese
600 g (21 oz) of konafa (thin oriental pastry)
50 g (1.7 oz) of non-salted fresh cheese
½ glass of melted butter
For the syrup (ater)
3 glasses of sugar
1 glass of water
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Melt all the syrup ingredients together in a small pan. Set aside.
Butter a round baking tin of 20 cm (8”), cover with a 2 cm (0.8'') thick layer of konafa pastry and place in a pre-heated oven until golden brown (about 15 minutes). Remove from the oven. Evenly cover the pastry with the cheese, then place a thin layer of konafa on top and lightly pat down the surface. Finish baking in the oven for another 15 minutes and, when the dessert has taken on a nice golden colour, coat it with the sugar syrup. Cut into slices and serve hot.