Between Bedouins and Coffee Boys

In the past, Jordan was a key player in the coffee trade: the precious Yemeni arabica was unloaded from merchant ships moored at the Jordanian port of Aqaba, before it continued its way towards Iran and Iraq on the caravans escorted by Bedouins. Coffee soon became part of the Jordanian culture and even today, Bedouin tribes prepare it the traditional way. In the desert of Wadi Rum, they drink it roasted, bitter, lightly spiced, infused for six hours and boiled several times. The result is a kind of decoction called khamìr, synonymous with hospitality and richness, and is offered to guests according to the jaha coffee ceremony. The jaha consists of three tastings, symbols of hospitality, welcome and happiness. In bigger cities, however, where life and work have been westernised, there are coffee boys who take care of coffee breaks. The coffee boy is an employee with the only task of making coffee and entertain the company’s customers and managers. The coffee boy is an expert in all types of coffee, Turkish, Arabic or espresso, and works in a room equipped with a stove, a washbasin, a locker and everything he needs for his job.

The recipes
Qahwa sada
Bedouin coffee

A spiced version of the classic Turkish coffee, typical of the Egyptian city Alexandria.

200 g green coffee
10 g green cardamom

Roast the green coffee beans in a pan over medium heat, turning them continuously with a spoon, until they turn an even dark brown colour. Crush them in a wooden mortar and place 20 heaped teaspoons in a 1-litre jug full of boiling water. Place the jug on the heat and continue to simmer for at least 20 minutes over a gentle flame. Meanwhile, crush the cardamom seeds in the mortar and pour a heaped teaspoon into an Arabian coffee pot, filled with the previously boiled coffee. Put it all back on the heat for a few minutes, bring to a boil again and cook over gentle heat for a few seconds, then serve without sweetening. The dose of cardamom can be increased, up to a proportion of 2 parts of coffee and 1 part of cardamom, and the infusion time can be extended to achieve the desired taste.

Knafè bl Jibn
Baked noodles with sugar syrup and cheese

One of the favourite desserts with Egyptians, it is made with semolina (simeet), preferably served at breakfast with coffee, and possibly with added cream (eshta) or jam.

600 g Oriental noodles for desserts (konafa)
50 g fresh, unsalted cheese
half a glass of melted butter
For the syrup (ater)
3 cups sugar
1 glass water
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Start by melting all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan together and set aside. Butter a 20 cm round baking tin, spread a first layer of konafa dough over the base to a depth of about 2 cm, and bake in a well-heated oven until golden (about 15 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven and spread the cheese evenly over the dough; complete with a thin layer of konafa to gently flatten the cheese. Finish by baking in the oven for another 15 minutes, and when the cake has a nice golden colour, moisten with the sugar syrup. Cut into slices and serve while still hot.