A perfect glassful of dawa would be perfect to warm you up not only today, but really any time of the year that you want something delicious, nutritious, warming, and soothing. There are countless ways of making dawa, and today’s recipe is my take.

    What is Dawa?

    Dawa means medicine in Swahili and it is used to cure absolutely everything. It is best enjoyed as a sundowner drink.

    Dawa is commonly taken when one wants to soothe a sore throat, ease a cold and for most, just to warm themselves up and inject their body with a bucket load of vitamins.

    You don’t have to wait till you have flu to enjoy this, you can just enjoy it any day, anytime honey!

    Origin Of Dawa

    The dawa (medicine) cocktail, invented at the Carnivore restaurant in the Langata suburb of Nairobi, was inspired by the Brazilian caipirinha, a cocktail made with the cane-sugar spirit cachaça.

    Bartenders complained of morning-after headaches from the cachaça and started subbing in vodka. (Some Brazilians also prefer vodka with their muddled limes and sugar; the resulting drink is a caipivodka.)

    Carnivore’s bartenders began testing their new drink on guests; and one of them, who happened to be their landlord, was a fan. He asked for another, referring to it as his dawa (medicine).

    The name stuck and so did the cocktail, which is now found across Kenya.

    Dawa Recipe

    There are two variations of the dawa drink: the cocktail and the tea.

    Typically, it is prepared using just plain water as the core carrier of all the other ingredients. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it also wouldn’t hurt if we added some flavor.

    For that, I always start with cold water, add some whole clove (karafuu) and cinnamon sticks and bring it to a boil.

    Clove is not only warming but it is also an excellent maintainer of gut health and cinnamon is excellent in regulating blood sugar. They are amazing for your body and add flavor so it is a win-win!

    You can opt for clove/cinnamon spice, however I find the whole spices a lot better for my dawa. You can find both in any well stocked supermarket across the country.

    As your water simmers, it will get a mild brown hue, and that is because of our clove and the cinnamon stick.

    The simmering will take a few minutes, and the time will vary according to the quantity of your water.

    As that is going, you should have already prepped and juiced your lemon or prep it at this moment. Any variety of lemon will work for this.

    Loaded with vitamin c, antioxidants, cancer- fighting properties and so much more, each mug of Dawa will not only do your body good, keep you healthy but it is the perfect partner to cozy up to on a cold night. Serve and Enjoy!

    Be Sure to Try These Other Authentic Drinks Recipes!

    Soothing, delicious and easy to make, Can’t wait for you all to try this out!


    Tafi Mukunyadzi
    Dawa means "medicine" or "magic potion" in Swahili. In other words, a dawa is said to be so potent that it will cure whatever ails you. The recipe is based on a famous Brazilian drink that was introduced to Kenya. It is now one of the most widely consumed cocktails in Kenya and has spread through out North and South Africa (especially in touristy regions). Enjoy!
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Course Drinks
    Cuisine Kenyan
    Servings 1


    • 1 lime
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 6 ice cubes
    • 2 ounces vodka
    • Honey to taste


    • Cut the lime into quarters and place them inside a lowball glass. Add the tablespoon of sugar and muddle the mixture with a stick until the sugar is moist—but be gentle so you don’t extract too much bitterness from the peel of the lime.
    • Add at least 6 ice cubes to the glass. (According to one bartender, “Warm dawas are disgusting!”) Pour two tots of vodka over the ice. Dip the stirring stick in honey, then lightly stir it into the drink. Remember: Honey is a garnish in this cocktail. You don’t want the drink to become sickly sweet.
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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