Kehwa

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Kehwa is a traditional green tea preparation native to Kashmir region, Afghanistan and some other regions of Central Asia. The sweet taste and fragrant aroma of this special drink is soothing and relaxing at the same time.

Origin
Kahwah or Kehwa is believed to have been derived from the Arabic word ‘Qahwah’, which is generally used for coffee beans, however Kehwa is an aromatic green tea. Even though the exact origins of Kehwa are still unclear, most Kashmiris believe that the aromatic traditional drink Kehwa dates back to times immemorial and has been a part of local consumption for ages.

Preparation
Kehwa is prepared by boiling green tea leaves with saffron strands, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods and occasionally Kashmiri roses to add a great aroma. Generally, it is served with sugar or honey and crushed nuts, usually almonds or walnuts. Some varieties are made as an herbal infusion only, without the green tea leaves.

Traditionally, Kehwa is prepared in a brass kettle known as a samovar. A samovar consists of a "fire-container" running as a central cavity, in which live coals are placed keeping the tea perpetually hot. Around the fire-container there is a space for water to boil and the tea leaves and other ingredients are mixed with the water.

Kehwa may also be made in normal pans and vessels, as modern day urban living may not always permit the use of elaborate samovars.

Apart from the routine consumption which may vary from home to home in Kashmir, the Kehwa is formally served to guests as part of a starter at a Kashmir wedding ceremony  and saffron (Kong) is added to the Kehwa on special occasions. It is often served in tiny, shallow cups, locally known as Kehwa Pyalle. Kehwa in Kashmir is also commonly served after Wazwan and elaborate family dinners and is a must have on the two festive Eids.

Kehwa Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water,
  • A pinch of dalchini or cinnamon,
  • 1/2 tsp fresh green tea (crushed),
  • 2 choti elaichi or cardamom,
  • 3 or 4 badams or almond (crushed),
  • 3 or 4 akhrot or walnuts (crushed),
  • 2 saffron strands.
  • Sugar or honey to taste.

Method:

  • Take water in a vessel or kettle.
  • Add crushed tea leaves and allow it to one boil.
  • Add crushed cardamom, cinnamon, almonds and walnuts while tea is boiling and cover.
  • Add sugar to taste.
  • Add the saffron strands now.
  • Keep on a low flame for some time.
  • The tea is now ready to drink.

Enjoy the aroma and divine taste of this special drink from Kashmir.

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