I have a 17-year old daughter who was born and raised in the US; she does not like to cook, and can hardly be found in the kitchen, except to heat up some frozen boxes of food.
All of this changed when she and Tony, a Lebanese young man she met in childhood, became an item: now she is offering to make me Turkish coffee, telling me (when I expressed astonishment) that Tonytaught her how to make it.
Such is the importance of Turkish coffee for Lebanese folks. Sure, we love espresso and instant coffee, but Turkish coffee is a tradition that is here to stay.
Making Turkish coffee is more involved than pressing a button and waiting 6 seconds to drink a dark brew. That is why, in my mind, it is ten times more enjoyable. It is stronger, true, but the aroma is more potent: the whiff of coffee fills up your nostrils making you feel content: here, a few minutes of guaranteed happiness and relaxation.
- 1 heaping teaspoon of coffee per cup
- sugar to taste or none
- one cup of water per cup
There is a ritual associated with Turkish coffee: First of all, if you are offered a cup, the next question that needs to be addressed is: “How do you want it? sweet, semi-sweet or bitter?”
If you like your coffee sweet, then you can include a small teaspoon of sugar while heating the water; if there are several people getting coffee, then it is easier to prepare it bitter and serve sugar on the side.
- Measure one or more cups of water by filling up a Turkish coffee cup or a demi-tasse (espresso) cup with water almost to the rim. Pour into the Turkish coffee pot rakweh.
- If adding some sugar, now is the time to do so, stirring a bit to dissolve the sugar for a few seconds; now add a heaping teaspoon of coffee per cup to the pot and let it slowly dissolve and boil.
- As soon as the coffee boils and fills up the pot to the rim, remove from the heat, stir and place back on the stovetop. Heat some more and let it boil again. Remove from the heat and place it back on the stovetop. The third time that it boils, remove from the heat and set it on a flat surface for a few seconds to settle.
- Pour into the cups and serve.
Some people like to remove some of the froth at the first boil and place a half teaspoon of it in each cup; I do it sometimes, but it is not necessary.
A rakweh or Turkish coffee pot and the cups for it (usually similar to espresso cups) can be found in all middle-eastern grocers, along with the small teaspoons used to stir the coffee. The coffee itself is found in bags, usually in two main flavors: plain or with cardamom. In Lebanon, there are just three or four Turkish coffee purveyors, and households usually remain fiercely loyal to one over another; you can make your own, grinding the beans to a powdery texture on the Turkish coffee grind setting and using the coffee of your choice; arabica beans are best and my personal favorite.
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