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Arab drinks

Contributed by Toine Van Teeffelen on 18.02.2006:

Qahwe (Arabic coffee): Arabic coffee is mixed with cardamom and served with or without sugar.

When somebody leaves for a long trip, relatives throw coffee on the floor or at the entrance. This ritual serves to protect the traveller during the long journey.

It is said that when you spoil some coffee on the floor, you will meet good fortune.

If people offer you coffee, drink it. If you want to leave before drinking coffee, the host will insist you to stay, saying “your uncle is not a bad person.”

Shay (tea): Most Palestinians drink shay. It is made of boiled water, mint leaves and tea, with sugar added according to taste. Villagers and especially workers prefer it dark and very sweet.

Nbeed (wine): Palestinian Christians drink wine. A well-known wine is Cremisan, produced at the Cremisan factory in Beit Jala. The Cremisan Convent was founded in 1882 by the Salesian father Belloni. He established a wine cellar to provide a source of income. The monks started to make wine in 1885. Nowadays the Convent produces red and white wine, as well as various types of liquors and fruit juices.

Arak (anis liquid): A very popular alcoholic drink in Palestine. It is made of grapes and refined by aniseed. Cold water or ice cubes can be added to reduce the alcohol level. Palestinians often drink it with tabouleh, a salad made from cracked wheat and other mezze dishes.

Taybeh (Palestinian beer). A good quality beer made in a small brewery in Taybeh, a Palestinian town near Ramallah.

Asseer Lemoun (home-made lemon juice). Many Palestinians make their lemonade at home. It is tasty and easy to make.

Ingredients: sugar, lemon juice, mint.

Add 1,5 cup sugar for each cup lemon juice. Leave it for two days until the sugar is completely soaked. Add some mint for extra flavour. Keep in clean bottles tightly closed. It can be preserved for three months.

From: “Sahteen: Discover the Palestinian Culture by Eating”, published by the Freres School, Bethlehem, part of the Culture and Palestine series issued by the Arab Educational Institute-Open Windows, Bethlehem, 1999. To order the book, send a mail to

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