top of page

Treats from Istanbul: The Turkish Kahwa

All I remember from my last trip to Istanbul is good food, friendly people, beautiful Roman architecture and Turkish Kahwa with sweet delights.

The memory of the day we landed in Istanbul is still vivid. It was a chilly winter evening. I was totally mesmerized by the drive to our breakfast in bed “Noah’s Ark”. Even the name gave me an old Islamic city vibe. My little one was only six months old. After comforting her I called the lobby for refreshments, and this is what they brought for me… A kettle filled with Kahwa and tray full of sweet Turkish delights. It was my first cozy impression of the place, and everything followed along. What a beautiful mix of East and West. The architecture is contrasting with its modern culture, and I found it impressive. The food is amazing, I still remember the baklawa trays showcased outside sweet shops, and small joints serving kebab and kofta platters. The smell seems homey and satisfying. I remember we drove to the main city just to get the kebab we were told the best in town, they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious with such mild spices.

It was the first time I had Turkish Kahwa, but I had been introduced to Kahwa long back when my dad used to bring Peshawari Kahwa from his frequent visits to the northern area, my mom would serve it after dinner. It even became a delicacy and a reason for a sit-down chit-chat after dinner sessions later. It reminds me our late winter nights, sipping Kahwa and having cozy discussions about our day.

I brought a bunch of Kahwa leaves when I came to States, and I never ran out of stock because my mom is still restocking it for me. Her packages always contain Kahwa leaves and my love for Kahwa is growing strong with every passing day because it reminds me of her; it reminds me of my childhood, and I still cherish it with a cup of Kahwa.

As a further resource for you avid Kahwa drinkers out there, here’s a Kahwa recipe I've making for years now... Making Kahwa is an art, so experiment with amounts of tea leaves until you come up with your favorite way to make it. You may like stronger Kahwa, or more/less sugar and the color is very important. Saffron Kahwa has the golden color so depending on the quality and source of the saffron you may need more/less or longer time covered. Regular Kahwa is usually not too dark in color so experiment to see how adjusting the cinnamon or tea leaves affects color. Serving it with a lemon slice is also an old trick I learned from my mom.

Turkish Kahwa

Yield: 4 servings

Pre time: 10 min

Ingredients: 4 cups water 3 to 4 pods green cardamom ( cracked) 1 cinnamon stick 2 tbsp sugar 2 tbsp loose green tea 1/4 tsp salt


Boil water with green cardamom, cinnamon stick, and two tablespoons sugar for 5-10 minutes or until fragrant. Take off heat and add three teaspoons loose green tea and cover for 1-2 mins just until color turns slightly darker. Strain and serve.

For saffron Kahwa, instead of adding green tea use 2-3 strands of saffron and cover for 2-3 mins or until color turns golden. Strain and serve.

Thank you for visiting my blog, I look forward to your comments or questions!

bottom of page