Tradition is always considered good and special in the Arab world, whether it’s food, clothes or, in today’s case, drinks. In this post, we’re going to learn about a number of traditional drinks that are made and consumed in different parts of the Arab world. What is especially good about these drinks is that they are made with fresh fruits and herbs, making them not just tasty, but healthy as well!
Though Matteh may look like green tea, not only is it made from different herbs, but it also tastes different, too. The drink is easy to make: Simply add boiling water to a mixture of ground, dried leaves and herbs. It can taste slightly bitter and strong, but you can add a bit of flavor such as sugar, thyme, wild mint or ginger to make it less so.
Although matteh contains caffeine, it often helps one to relax and is believed to be effective against migraines. It is usually drunk with a straw made specifically for this drink calleda jozeh. This drink is very popular in both Syria and Lebanon and is typically drunk on a daily basis by both Syrians and Lebanese alike.
Tea In Arabic / Shay /شاي
This isn’t just any old tea – this is mint tea! Arab etiquette and hospitality begin with mint tea. You will often find them drinking this beverage multiple times a day, and a guest can never leave a host’s house without sharing a cup of tea with them.
Qamardeen In Arabic / Qamardeen / قمر الدين
Qamardeen, another popular drink during Ramadan, is a thick apricot beverage that’s made using dried apricot paste. It’s a staple at most Arab homes and a wonderful drink to share with family and friends.
Jallab In Arabic / Jallab / جلاب
Jallab is another famous drink from Syrian and Lebanese drink that combines the tastes of both sweet and sour. It is made from date syrup, rose water, water and ice. Some people like to add pine nuts to it, while others like to keep it simple. Still others might choose to replace the date syrup with grape syrup, but it all really depends on what you’re in the mood for at the moment.
Arabic Coffee / Qahwa / قهوة
Serving Arabic coffee in Jordan is a sign of respect, especially in the Bedouin culture. Of course, this tradition is not strictly Jordanian but spans across the whole Arab world. Arabic coffee is slightly bitter, usually infused with cardamom, and served in a very small bowl-like coffee cup, or finjan, with some dates on the side.
Salep In Arabic / Sahlab / سَحْلَب
Sahleb is a cozy, warm drink that is specifically consumed in the winter and is considered a good source of calcium while also providing warmth and energy. It’s affordable and easy to make. All you need is cane sugar, corn starch, cinnamon and orange blossom water. You can also add ground nuts on top such as coconut, pistachio or almonds.
Juice In Arabic / Aseer /عصير
While not strictly an Arabic drink, lemonade infused with cooling mint is a best-seller and aids digestion, relieves heartburn, and after a day of basking in the sun, there’s no better way to cool down! Indeed, there’s also nothing better than ‘lemon-mint’ to wash down your daily meal.
Though lemon-mint might be the most popular juice, there are other local favorites as well. One of these is tamar hindi, a popular traditional drink served throughout the Levant made by combining soaked, crushed tamarind with water, sugar and lemon juice, making it perfectly sweet with a tangy kick. Other fresh juices including watermelon, pineapple and papaya also feature heavily on juice bar menus across the Middle East.
Alcohol In Arabic / Khamr /خمر
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is sold in the Middle East. Depending on the region and how traditional it is, you might find alcohol sold only in hotel bars and restaurants or in specialized liquor stores. However, due to the prevalence of the Islamic faith in the region, not everyone can run a liquor store. For example, a liquor store owner in Jordan must be a Christian.
Water In Arabic / Ma’/ماء And Milk In Arabic / Haleeb /حليب
Although these are not specific drinks, you should know how to ask for water or milk when visiting an Arab country.
Now that you’ve had a taste of Arabic culture through its choice of drinks, you might be inspired to start learning the beautiful language as well, so please check out our other articles. With the proper language skills and foodie know-how, you can take the Middle-East by storm while ordering your food and drink in Arabic along the way!