Hibiscus tea..and a trip into the world of Scheherezade

Iced apple hibiscus tea

This post was originally published in Honest cooking where yours truely is a proud contributor. 

Once upon a time there was a powerful and mighty king who was madly in love with his wife. The king was devastated to find out that his wife was not faithful to him and had her excuted. To have his revenge on her and to never allow a woman to betray him again he started marrying women and then having them excuted by the dawn of the next day so as to give them a chance at betrayal.

His prime minister who was responsible for bringing the king his new wives had a smart and beautiful daughter called Scheherezade. She decided to put an end to this tragedy and asked her dad that she should be the kings new wife. Her father refused at first, worried for his daughter’s life but then agreed reluctantly after she insisted that she had a plan and was sure she will succeed and in doing so saving her own life and the lives of many young women who will be chosen to be the king’s brides.

On the night of their wedding Scheherezade started telling the king (who was fond of stories) a tale that had him captivated. When light announced that it was the dawn of a new day she stopped promising to continue the tale the following night. The king reluctantly agreed, he was eager to know how the story ends and what’s one more night.

Each night Scheherezade would start telling her story at sunset and stop at dawn promising to finish the following night. She spun tales of love, courage, comidy, tragedy, magic and much more and the king could not resist being drawn into the world she created, he postponed her  excusion every morning pending the finish of her story. She would finish one story only to start another making sure to stop at dawn leaving her king eager for more.

And so a thousand and one nights passed before the king finally realized that he was in love with her and above all that he trusted her, and her intelligence and decided to spare her life.

As you may know, we spent our vacation this year in Sharm el Shaik. A city 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.

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.I mean, their airport is shaped like a bedouin tent.

 

and 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.

Hot hibiscus tea
Hot hibiscus tea
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers

5 cups water

5 tablespoons sugar (you can add more ,the level of sweetness is up to you)

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

Iced apple hibiscus tea

Iced apple pomegranate hibiscus tea

1 cup of hibiscus tea

1/2 cup pomegranate syrup

1 apple

3 or 4 twigs of mint

In the blender or food processor blend all the ingredients untill smooth

refrigerate until cold, serve decorated with some mint

Advertisements