Sahlab also known as salep in Turkey and Greece is a powder made from the dried tubers of a species of orchid,Orchis mascula that grows throughout the Middle East.These dried tubers are ground to an extremely fine powder and are used to give a gelatinous texture to foods.Because this powder is so fine, silky, and odorless it is commonly used as a flavoring for drinks and ice cream.
Pure, unadulterated sahlab is very hard to find outside the Middle East.If your lucky enough to find it at a Middle Eastern grocer it can be very expensive. I have seen some boxed "instant sahlab" ,but these are an inferior product as they contain a high ratio of cornstarch to sahlab.The following recipe is for a thick, wintry drink popular during the winter months throughout the Middle East.I figure now is a good a time as any to try this recipe before the weather becomes warm.If you cannot find genuine sahlab, you can try the boxed kind(available in my Amazon store) or you may substitute (surprise), cornstarch.It gives sahlab the same creamy texture but not the flavor that makes this drink so unique.
1 Tbsp. sahlab (can substitute 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch)
4 c whole milk
3 Tbsp. sugar or more, to taste
2 tsp. orange-blossom water or rosewater, to taste
ground cinammon, for dusting
1. In a bowl, mix sahlab or cornstarch (if using) with a few drops of cold milk.
2.In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining milk to a boil and pour in the sahlab mixture.Turn down the heat to a simmer.Stir till lumps are dissolved.Keep stirring till mixture thickens (maybe about 10 minutes).
3. Stir in the sugar and either orange-blossom water or rosewater and stir for 30 seconds.
4. Remove from heat.Pour sahlab in serving mugs and dust the top with ground cinnamon.