Make it. Eat it. Love it.
As I sit here and write this, I am listening to the rain beat down on the awning above me that’s keeping me dry as I watch the drops fall on my front yard. I savor times like these. When you live where not one drop of water falls from the sky 10 months out of the year, you welcome rainy days, even if the rain lasts for only an hour.
It’s cool and damp, I’ve broken out my super cozy hooded sweatshirt and Uggs for the first time this year. The weather reminds me of when my husband and I traveled to Istanbul.
We spent many hours in small coffee shops escaping the rain and damp, cool weather. It was there that I discovered sahlep, a milk based drink made with salep flour that is wildly popular in Turkey during the winter months, to help warm your hands and tummy when the weather gets cold. Salep flour is made from grinding the roots of the mountain orchid. It has a starchy consistency (think cornstarch) and a unique sweet flavor with hints of floral tones. When boiled together with milk, sugar and cinnamon, you get a thick creamy drink to warm your soul.
Being illegal to carry out of Turkey due to the fact that cultivating it was in turn making the mountain orchid extinct, I came to terms with sahlep being a once in a life time treat (unless I found myself back in Turkey in the winter). I had nearly forgotten about the lovely drink until I found myself fighting my way to the counter of the spice stand in the shuk. An old orthodox man next to me shouted out, “Salav” (shalep in hebrew). The man behind the counter handed the old man a bag of white powder. At that moment I completely forgot what I was there to buy and ended up with a large bag of sahlep powder that has been sitting in my spice cabinet waiting for the temperature to drop.
Sahlep is great any time of day or night to ward off those winter chills. It is also a great calorie friendly alternative to eggnog come Christmas time.
Sahlep is love at first sip.
2 teaspoons sahlep powder
3 teaspoons suga
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups milk
cinnamon for dusting
Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add sahlep, sugar and cinnamon stick.
Bring mixture to a boil and simmer until thickened about 10 minutes.
Remove cinnamon stick and pour into mugs.
Sprinkle tops with cinnamon.