Karkade or hibiscus juice is a refreshing drink that was thought to be popular with the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. It's the perfect drink for a hot summers day.
Karkade is a juice or tea made from hibiscus flower petals. It has a taste like cranberry juice although it is not quite as sour. It is available from coffee shops or restaurants, or from the karkade man who walks around with a giant glass jar strapped to him yelling 'karkade!!!'
Karkade has many medicinal properties, some of which are; regulating blood pressure, diuretic benefits & it is high in vitamin C. It tastes good, is refreshing & can help with your health, treat yourself to a glass today!
Hibiscus is highly prized, and the dried calyces can be found on any herb and spice stall in the souks and markets. They have a beautiful strong odour. Egyptian hibiscus plantations are mainly found in the Upper Egypt regions of Qena and Aswan and in the oasis of Fayoum.
A hibiscus drink can be made in many different ways. It all depends on how strong and sweet you like your drink. Karkade can be drunk both hot and cold. Many people enjoy a cool drink best from the fridge. If you prefer the strong taste of karkade, then after cooking, always leave the dried hibiscus in water for a long time. It is best to check what taste suits you best and add the amount of hibiscus and sugar you like. After a few times you will know what you enjoy best.
How to brew karkade
¼ cup dried hibiscus calyces
10 cups cold water ½ -1 cup sugar (optional – the juice is quite tart and you can either add the sugar now or add a teaspoonful in your cup; replace with honey if you prefer if drinking the juice cold you may appreciate sweetening)
Place the water and hibiscus in a pan and bring to the boil. Add the sugar (as required) and then simmer for around 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the mixture in a sieve. If drinking the juice cold, leave it to cool and place in the fridge; you can then add ice cubes and a slice of lemon or lime if you wish. For a spicy, warm punch (similar to a mulled wine but without the wine!) add some cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise and orange/lemon slices before you leave it to simmer. It is delicious to poach pears in as well.
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