Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Turkish Coffee

I decided that the New Year’s first entry should be a simple but a classic Turkish recipe. I couldn't think of anything more authentic than the Turkish Coffee.

I’ll start with a Turkish Proverb:
“ A cup of coffee commits one to forty years of friendship"

There’s even an old saying that goes like this:
“Heart wants neither coffee nor a coffee house,
Heart wants just a friendly chat, coffee is merely an excuse.”

"Gönül ne kahve ister, ne kahvehane,
  Gönül sohbet ister, kahve bahane"

Drinking Turkish coffee is a thing of pure pleasure. Normally speaking, you should not be in a hurry “to get some caffeine down”. Rather, for most regular coffee drinkers, it is sort of a ritual. 

I have very fond memories of how my grandmother and her neighbor used to do this every day. Around mid morning, Ayse hanim, the next door neighbor would come over. They would settle in their comfortable places in the kitchen. Grandma would get a handful of raw coffee beans from a big jar over the fireplace. It would be placed in a handheld coffee roaster. This was a cylindrical gadget made out of metal with a little lid on the side. Grandma would roast the beans over wood fire. I can still hear the comforting crackling sound the beans would make as she used to turn the roaster over the fire. When the beans are roasted, she would place them in a mortar made out of stone. This was a pretty big gadget, which was placed by the fireplace almost like a piece of furniture, never moved around. In this morter, she would pound the beans to a perfect grind as the two friends would get deeper in their conversation. Subjects would range from their daily chores to what they are going to cook for dinner, then to various aches and pains and what they do for their maladies. Later, they would go into more serious subjects for the day like their stubborn husbands or the difficult daughters-in-law or sister-in-law, etc.  As they take turns in pounding the coffee and their troubles away, at one point it is decided that the coffee is ready for brewing. Grandma would step out to the yard, would come back with a few sprigs of sweet marjoram to add to the coffee pot for added flavor. They would go yet deeper in their conversations as they sip their sweet and strong coffees. 

After they finish drinking their coffees they would turn the little porcelain coffee cups upside down on the saucers as they utter some words like “let my fortune show up as is in my cup”. They would wait for a few minutes for the cups to cool down. Then, they would take turns reading each other’s fortune by looking at the patterns formed by coffee grounds at the bottom of their cups. This used to be the most fun part for me as a child. Surprising good news would be on its way…how an important conversation between a man and a woman is about to bring happiness into their lives…a small surprise package to arrive in 2 days…or 2 weeks…maybe 2 months…the enemy in the form of a wolf is behind you but is very powerless, unable to do any harm… These little “thousand year old” lies would take away all the worries and bring hope into each other’s hearts… Shortly after they reassure each other that all will be fine soon, Ayse hanim would say goodbye and leave, only to repeat this again the very next day either at my grandma’s house or at her house. 

These visits had great therapeutic value and were almost as good as a nice massage for their tired souls. One of the best outcomes of their coffee rituals was everlasting hope that kept showing up in their coffee cups. That’s why I wanted to start the New Year with a recipe for Turkish Coffee which I hope will bring good luck, good fortune and hope for all your dreams for the New Year…

Turkish Coffee:

  • Extra finely ground medium roast coffee. Request Turkish coffee grind at the coffee shop
  • Water
  • Sugar (optional)
You need:
  • Turkish coffee pot called “cezve”
  • Turkish coffee cups called “fincan”


Measuring one cup of cold water for each cup you are making, pour in cold water in the coffee pot. Add a heaping teaspoonful of the ground Turkish coffee per cup in the water. If you like your coffee sweet, add sugar and stir. All ingredients should be added while the water is still cold.

Heat the pot over slow heat It will start foaming at the top. Be careful not to boil it. Boiling will spoil the foam. Remove from heat just before it starts to boil. Pour small quantities into each cup. Make sure to divide the foam equally into the cups. Then place the pot over the heat again until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and distribute the rest of the coffee between the cups.

Traditionally, Turkish coffee is served with a piece of Turkish Delight (lokum), a starch and sugar based confection with nuts in it. You can serve it with a cookie or a piece of chocolate as well.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

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