Sawsan Abu Farha travels to Egypt and falls in love with both the architecture and the wonderful classic hibiscus tea.
By Sawsan Abu Farha
We spent our vacation this year in Sharm el shaik , a city situated on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, in South Sinai, Egypt, on the coastal strip along the Red Sea. The city is most known for its crystal clear water,magnificent corals, exotic under water flora and rare fish. All you had to do was walk into the sea till the water was knee-deep and you would see an amazing array of colorful fish swimming right next to your feet. That alone was an experience worth the trip.
The part that had me mesmerised though was not the shores nor the fish, it was the city’s beautiful cultural heritage that was evident in the wood work and lanterns that were everywhere testifying to the great craftsmanship of the Egyptian people.
The minute you walk into the airport you feel like you left the real world and stepped into the world of a thousand and one nights.The airport is shaped like a bedouin tent.
Everywhere you look hotels, cafes and restaurants display beautiful old arabic architecture.
A walk through the city’s old market will leave you dazzled with all the beautiful things on display.
There were baskets overflowing with herbs, dried hibiscus flowers and something they call Habak, which is a herb that grows only in Sinai and they add it to tea. It smelled like a cross between thyme and rosemary and I couldn’t resist the temptation to buy some.
There were also pyramids of spices of every color and kind.
If you enter any of the cafes in the old market you’d see a fixed item on all the menus. Karkadeh or hibiscus tea is a refreshing infusion of dried hibiscus flowers. It is tart, taste reminiscent of cranberries. They serve it hot or iced with rosewater or combined with a variety of fruits. I’m sharing two recipes I learnt there with you today.
- 1 cup(45 grams) dried hibiscus flowers
- 5 cups (12.5 dl) water
- 5 tablespoons (63 grams) sugar (you can add more ,the level of sweetness is up to you)
- 1 cup of hibiscus tea
- ½ cup pomegranat syrup
- 1 apple
- 3 or 4 twigs of mint
- In a pot add all the ingredients and bring them to a boil over medium heat
- Reduce the heat and allow to boil for 5 more minutes
- In the blender or food processor blend all the ingredients untill smooth
- Refrigerate until cold, serve decorated with some mint