Hibiscus karkadeh

There can be few better ways to revive oneself from the heat of the Sudanese day than to sit and drink a chilled cup of karkadeh!

Sudanese hibiscus flowers (karkadeh) are rich in iron and are said to lower blood pressure. In Sudan it is often regarded as a herbal tea that can help with sore throats and coughs. Karkadeh is harvested in Kordofan in the west of Sudan and is used to make a refreshing drink that can be served hot or cold. Not only does it have a delicious taste, it produces when soaked a deep red colour similar to pomegranates or cranberry juice. The best place to buy karkadeh flowers is in the souq where it is sold by the pound (raTul) for about 8-10 SDG. Although ground karkadeh is available in tea bags, it is much better to make it yourself with dried flowers.

Making a fresh jug of karkadeh is relatively simple.
Firstly, sort out the flowers by hand so that the straw and woody parts are removed. Next, rinse the karkadeh thoroughly in a sieve to remove the dust particles. After that place the wet flowers in a saucepan and add hot water. Place this on the stove to boil for about 3 minutes. Then allow the karkadeh to stand for 5 minutes to allow the full infusion of the flavour and colour. Strain the karkadeh drink and add cold water until you get a lighter red colour similar to that of cranberry juice. Add sugar to taste. A top tip is to also add a few drops of banana essence which is available in small bottles from most good grocery shops. Chill the drink in the fridge before serving. Enjoy!

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