Saffron tea (Kuwait)

Kuwait is a very small Arab country located by the Persian Gulf. The earliest evidence of sailing has been found in Kuwait and for decades it was known as a center of boat construction. It used to be a major location for trade and has one of the biggest oil reserves in the world, though the Gulf War with its setting fire on hundreds of oil wells, as well as trade blockades, have damaged the prosperous economy. The country is tax-free, while the government owns the oil reserves. Kuwait is extremely hot in the summer, with average high temperatures over 45C (114F+) from June to August.

The Kuwaiti cuisine has been influenced by Arab and Persian cuisines and especially the Indian one. Foods are often flavoured with saffron, cinnamon and cardamom. Cumin, mustard seed, fennel seed and coriander seed are also common The national dish is biryani, a rich spiced rice dish known by anyone familiar with Indian food. Seafood is very popular, usually eaten with rice or khubz, a local flatbread. Main dishes may also be served with bulgur, spelt or noodles may also be served. Many dishes include eggs. Desserts tend to be rich, spiced cookies, cakes or dumplings, often with nuts. A proper Kuwaiti meal always includes dates and tea.

Saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices by weight, but luckily minuscule quantities of it are used, so it is not unaffordable. This recipe makes for a very aromatic tea, though I find it hard to describe the taste. It makes you think of Indian chai, but is still quite different. Try it yourself!

Saffron tea

Kuwaiti saffron tea

1 1/2 cups/3.6 dl water
2 whole cardamom pods, broken
1 pinch saffron
2 teabags
1 tsp sugar

Combine the water, saffron and cardamom in a saucepan over medium heat. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add teabags, and let tea steep for a minute. Strain into a cup and sweeten with sugar if desired. Serve hot.


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