Today I share with you something that is more a ritual than a recipe – something that can be made in mere moments to soften the edge of a rough day, or settle the stomach after a most indulgent meal. It’s ahwa beida, or “white coffee” – the soothing soothing after-dinner cocktail named after coffee, that isn’t coffee, and doesn’t involve alcohol.
Coffee is an essential part of social life in the Middle East. Among Middle Eastern families it is quite common to have a designated coffee maker who takes orders – black, a little sweet, very sweet – and saunters to the stove after shared meals to brew it our special way, boiled three times in an ibrik (in my family, it’s my uncle, Suhayl).
However, if one has perhaps overindulged, or prefers a light digestive, they may order ahwa beida instead: steaming hot water with a few drops of rose or orange blossom water.
I have recently taken a tremendous liking to this simple but calming drink, my interest reignited by my parents’ trip to Australia this year, when my dad asked for it after a buffet of delights from Queen Victoria Market. If I feel a cold coming on, I use it as an excuse to swirl in some raw honey. Play with the amount of flower water to your liking – my happy place is about 1 tsp in a standard mug.