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 ceremony consists of three sips, symbolizing hospitality, a good welcome and happiness. In bigger cities, however, where life and work have been westernized, 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 of Alexandria.

200 g green coffee
10 g green cardamom

Roast the green coffee beans over a moderate flame, constantly turning them with a spoon until they turn dark brown. Crush them in a wooden mortar and place 20 heaped teaspoons in a 1-liter 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 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
Baked noodles with sugar syrup and cheese

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

600 g Middle Eastern 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

Melt all the syrup ingredients together in a small pan. 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 color, coat it with the sugar syrup. Cut into slices and serve hot.