“Kahwa” – Traditional Kashmiri Aromatic Tea
A popular breakfast beverage among Kashmiris, Snow Mountain Kahva, Kahwah (Urdu: قہوہ, also transliterated qehwa, kehwa or kahwa) is a traditional green tea preparation consumed in Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, some regions of Central Asia as well as the Kashmir Valley.
The tea is made 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.
Most Kashmiris believe that the aromatic traditional drink kahwa dates back to ancient times. Certain sources also trace the origins of the drink to the Yarkand valley in Xinjiang Area. Kashmir & Xinjiang were part of the Kushan Empire during the 1st & 2nd century AD; it is likely that use of kehwa and its spread from one region to another was facilitated and popularized in these regions during the Kushan rule).
Traditionally, kahwa is prepared in a brass kettle known as samavar which consists of a “fire-container” running as a central cavity. Live coals are placed in this cavity to keep 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. Kahwa may also be made in normal pans and vessels, as modern day urban living may not always permit the use of elaborate samavars.
Kahwa is usually served to guests or as part of a celebration dinner, and Saffron is added for special visitors. It is often served in tiny, shallow cups – traditionally in ‘Khosas’. Sometimes milk is also added to kahwa, but this is generally given to the elderly or the sick.
2 teaspoons Green tea
1 stick cinnamon
3 almonds, chopped
1-2 pinches saffron
3 tsp sugar/ honey (or as per taste)
3 cups water
Pour 3 cups of water in a vessel and bring to a boil.
Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and sugar.
Stir on low heat until sugar dissolves.
Simmer the water for 3 minutes, keeping the vessel covered.
Add the green tea leaves and immediately turn off the heat.
Let the tea sit in the water for a minute. (For a strong flavor you can leave the tea in water for 2-3 minutes)
Divide the almonds and saffron and place in the tea cups.
Pour the tea over the saffron and almond pieces.
Serve hot. (serves 2 – 3 cups)
HEALTH BENEFITS OF KAHWA
- It is caffeine free.
- It is a fat burner and digestive drink that improves concentration and fights stress.
- This drink energizes and has a warming effect. It is particularly beneficial to drink Kahwa in the cold winter night.
- It helps to relieve headache and maintain fluid level in the body.
- Green tea is an excellent anti-oxidant.