Friday, 31 May 2013

Arabian nights - cardamon coffee & dates, and a distinct lack of inspiration

May be it's the fact that for the last week, I haven't actually had to cook anything apart from some bacon sarnies, but I am completely and utterly all out of enthusiasm for my kitchen. A weekend at mum's (from which I have returned with yet another rhubarb cake recipe - possibly the best yet - watch this space) followed by camping with the kids, and I'm back in my house, in my own kitchen and can I think of anything at all that I want to cook? Nope.

So while I'm waiting for inspiration to strike (and it better strike soon or the troops will be mutiny-ing) I'll share a little delight that the Husband treated me to this evening (no not THAT kind of treat - this is a family friendly blog).

The Husband has been off in the desert doing things I do not particularly choose to understand, and which, even if I did, I couldn't tell you about. When not involved in those things, he has been meeting camels, taking photos of lizards, and enjoying the hospitality that is customary in that part of the world. While it appears that much of the food available to him and his colleagues was met at best with unease ('chicken enema' being the least popular dish on the 3 day rotating menu. I say no more), he did enjoy some Bedouin hospitality in the form of cardamon coffee and dates, while lounging about in a carpeted tent. You get the picture. The following day, one of his hosts appeared with bags of Arabic coffee, a bag of cardamon pods and packs of dates and some vague instructions for preparation.

This evening, the Husband cooked pasta carbonara with asparagus from the garden. It was delicious - I meant to take a photo to sing his praises further, but it was too tasty and it all disappeared far too quickly). He then offered to make me Arabic coffee, and Blue, who adores dates, persuaded him to let us crack open the dates.

Dates are a very prized commodity in the part of the world where the Husband was staying, and these are completely delicious. Honestly, you may scoff, but they are almost chocolatey in their texture and ability to satisfy. And this from a confirmed chocoholic. I have no idea, but I'd guess these were up at the top of the date charts.

The coffee - well, the instructions were to make up the coffee, and add 1 part ground cardamom pods to 2 parts coffee used after the water has been added to the coffee.

Apart from the fact that it gave us the chance to use my Granny's coffee jug and cups which I love with a passion, I was really intrigued as to what it would taste like.

Coffee-wise, it's not nearly as strong as you might imagine. I'm no coffee connoisseur, although I definitely prefer ground to instant, and I was expecting some kind of Turkish-so-strong-your-spoon-stands-up-in-it brew, but no, this was much more delicate. The cardamom was the dominant taste, but in a good way, although we erred on the side of overdoing it and added the shells as well as the seeds to the brew. Combined with the dates, it was a really delicious end to a meal - and much grander than the occasion itself.

I'd like to try it with a stronger coffee, and may be leave out the shells, and just go with the ground cardamom seeds. I can also feel the stirrings of a cardamom coffee date cake...

While we were enjoying these delicacies, the Husband shared with us the story that his host had passed on, that all boys in that part of the world are taught how to make this coffeee as one of the first things they do. Blue digested this fact, and then recounted how, in Ancient Egypt, baboons were trained to collect dates. he paused and then went on, with 9yr old glee "And did you know, it was supposed to be really good luck to have dates that the baboons had poo'd on.". 

Thanks darling. Back to chicken enema in one swift conversational move. I really need to get some inspiration quick.


  1. Ooh, cardamon coffee sounds delicious...

  2. Bacon sarnies is definitely something amazing to cook! Love the sound of the coffee, and I would save some of those dates for sticky toffee pudd! I am attempting Turkish delight today... :O

    1. Oh yes! Sticky toffee pudding! Turkish delight sounds exotic. Good luck!

  3. They look like delicious dates! Hope your inspiration returns soon, before the troops mutiny!

  4. Looking forward to the cardamom coffee date cake! Sounds fabulous...

  5. This sounds like an excellent way to end a meal. Especially if someone makes it for you. Love those cups, by the way.

  6. I enjoyed this post - it bought back happy memories. I used to travel to the Middle East for work and whenever I returned to the hotel a man with a cart would appear to offer coffee and dates. Eating in a tent in the dessert is magical - I have never felt so far from home! I also remember the lovely fat dates I bought back with me - I've never found anything to match them!


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