Sahlep Drink

Posted on by on November 19th, 2011 | 53 Comments »

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.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons sahlep powder
3 teaspoons suga
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups milk
cinnamon for dusting

Directions:

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.

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53 Comments

  1. Posted on: 11-19-2011

    Yum! I totally didn’t make the connection when you were talking about orchid powder months back, but they have sahlab here everywhere too! Little vendors sell it and I think they even have it at Aroma. Great recipe, and the photos are just beautiful!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-19-2011

      Yesss, I actually have a lot of it, soooo you should totally come take some! Especially now that its so cool and damp here!! I had no idea Aroma had it! Awesome!

  2. Posted on: 11-19-2011

    I remember having sahlab pudding years ago.I wonder if I could find that powder here,and use it with ,for example,soy milk instead of regular milk,

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-19-2011

      Im sure you can find it somewhere, if not the shuk in Beer Sheva has it! You can totally use it with soy milk!
      It was also so great to meet you at the TA wine festival! Hope to see you again!

  3. Posted on: 11-19-2011

    I spent a summer in Israel and a winter in Armenia, but never heard of this! What a pity, too. It sounds absolutely delicious. I don’t see myself heading to Turkey any time soon so I guess I’ll have to live the sahlep experience vicariously through you. It looks absolutely perfect for this 26 degree morning though.

    (It actually does rain in the Negev sometimes???)

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-19-2011

      Maybe you can find it in a Middle Eastern or Asian market?! 26 degree mornings definitely call for sahlep!
      YES, it does rain here in the Negev! I know, surprising isnt it?! The first rain of the season my husband and I had no idea what that sound was and looked at each other and said “is that rain?” !!

  4. Posted on: 11-19-2011

    My friends who live in the dry SW US savor the rare cool and rainy day. And this drink looks perfect for cloudy, rainy, snowy…actually any cool day! If I ever run across sahlep powder, I know what to do with it. Happy weekend~

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-20-2011

      Yes, us desert dwellers revel in the rainy weather! Hope you will be able to find some sahlep powder so you can enjoy a mug full on a cool day!

  5. Posted on: 11-19-2011

    A soul-warming and delectable drink!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-20-2011

      Thanks Angie!

  6. Posted on: 11-20-2011

    Lovely drink.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-20-2011

      Thanks Christine!

  7. Posted on: 11-20-2011

    I love your description!!! Where can I get some of this Sahlep!!!?!?!?!??!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-20-2011

      Thanks Tiffany! Try a Middle Eastern or Asian market, they should sell it. If not perhaps somewhere online?

  8. Posted on: 11-20-2011

    This sounds amazing! I have never heard of this ingredient and now I am curious about it!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-20-2011

      The first time I ever heard of it was in Turkey. Luckily it seems to be a common product here in the Middle East!

  9. Posted on: 11-20-2011

    I’ve been traveling to Turkey few times, last trip being this September, but I have never heard of this drink before. Maybe I wasn’t paying too much attention.
    We have a Turkish mini grocery store, I’ll have to ask there for this magical powder and enjoy it now that the freezing temperatures arrived.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-20-2011

      I think the sahlep comes out in the winter in Turkey so September still may have bit a warm for it. I would definitely try your Turkish market!!

  10. Posted on: 11-20-2011

    Drink looks lovely!!!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-20-2011

      Thanks Daksha!

  11. Maya@Foodiva's Kitchen
    Posted on: 11-20-2011

    Last time I was in Turkey, I was 19 and can’t remember whether I had any sahlep or not. Your description of the drink is so comforting that I’m definitely going to look out for the powder should I find myself in any souk in the future!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 11-20-2011

      If you were in Turkey in the winter you probably had sahlep at least once!! If you were there in the summer you could of had it in ice cream which is another very common use for it in Turkey!

  12. Posted on: 11-20-2011

    This drink is very intriguing! I would so love to try if I could ever get the Sahlep powder or visit Turkey, really neat to learn about it.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      i hope you can find some sahlep to try it! Perfect for the cold months ahead.

  13. Posted on: 11-20-2011

    How fun — and sly — to bring back a warm and wonderful taste of Turkey with you. I bet it totally hits the spot in these cold, blustery months.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      Yes! It is so nice to have a taste of that trip to Turkey with me whenever I am in the mood!

  14. Posted on: 11-21-2011

    My favorite thing about traveling is trying new foods; my least favorite thing is discovering that your new favorite thing in the world is illegal to bring back home!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      Haha yeah, not being able to bring back something I loved was not so exciting, but finding it here in Israel was super amazing!

  15. Liren
    Posted on: 11-21-2011

    Oh my. I have traveled to Turkey once, but have never learned of this drink until just now. It sounds like the perfect drink on a night like this!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      Such a shame to have missed this while in Turkey! Its only available in the winter months though so your window of getting it is very short.

  16. Posted on: 11-21-2011

    Sounds a bit like inland CA, we are dry most of the year, but I do love a rainy day, it was raining today actually. Wish I could find that powder and enjoy a cup for myself. Will have to keep an out. Hope you had a lovely weekend.
    -Gina-

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      I do think I prefer it dry than rainy most of the year, however a little rain now and again is most welcoming!

  17. Posted on: 11-21-2011

    You mentioned Asian store sells sahlep powder? I’m curious how it tastes like and have to take a look. I only wonder if I can pronounce it right (but possibly both Asians who may not know what’s the appropriate way to pronounce this… lol).

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      I dont even know how to pronounce it myself!!! My husband sounds it out right know how the “h” is pronounced in Arabic. I still have trouble saying it properly!

  18. Posted on: 11-22-2011

    Excellent! This drink looks amazing and how cool is it that you found a place to get some of the sahlep powder!?

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      It was beyond amazing to find it here in the shuk! Everytime I go there I am surprised at what I could find.

  19. Posted on: 11-22-2011

    Well I will have to resign myself to the fact that I won’t get to taste this until I travel to Istanbul, a place that is definitely on my short list. Cannot wait!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      I hope you make it to Turkey! Such a beautiful place with such amazing food!

  20. Posted on: 11-24-2011

    I want some so bad. It sounds amazing, can you bake with it too the flavour sounds perfect for little pastries? I’m on the next plane!!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      I was thinking of using it to bake…maybe make a frosting with it?! The consistency is like cornstarch, maybe add it to custards…yum

  21. Posted on: 11-27-2011

    Sounds absolutely yummy! Beth, I FEEL your pain. It rained here in the middle of the night twice and I felt cheated. I have been chasing rain like how Adele has been chasing pavements. I love the rain. Always have, always will. It’s the tropical side of me, I know that with bright green lushness and sunshine comes rain. This sounds like the perfect thing to keep in my cupboard in anticipation of a downpour that I will be awake to appreciate in Dubai!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      I hate when it rains here in the middle of the night! I wake up with the ground wet so upset that I missed it!! Hope you get rain in your little corner of the Middle East soon!

  22. Posted on: 11-28-2011

    I will definately try this one! I can even smell the cinnamon :-)!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      That cinnamon just makes it even the more warming and wonderful!

  23. Posted on: 11-29-2011

    Happy Holiday BethMichelle,
    Sound yummy drink in cold weather like today in North Cal.

    I nominated you for a Versital award. Please take a look at award rules in my Award blog.
    Sound yummy

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      Thank you so much for the award! Heading over there now!

  24. Posted on: 11-30-2011

    I’ve never had occasion to try sahlep but am completely intrigued by this Turkish drink made from dried powdered roots of a mountain orchid… your photos are lovely.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      Thanks Kelly! I hope that you find yourself with the opportunity to try this one day!

  25. Posted on: 12-1-2011

    I wish I could locate sahlep powder and make this lovely looking drink! It looks perfect for the cold and snowy weather we are having right now.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      PERFECT for cold and snow! I hope you can find yourself with some soon!

  26. Posted on: 12-4-2011

    We’re having a rare sunny day here in Seattle so I’m appreciating that over the rain 🙂 However, all the chilly weather and rain will make it so I put this recipe into good use. Lovely post!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 12-17-2011

      I think Seattle may be the total opposite of Beer Sheva! Send some of your rain this way!

  27. Soma
    Posted on: 12-23-2012

    I am in Istambul now & I am going to try it tomorrow.

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