Learn how to make sahlab drink, a wonderful Middle Eastern drink that is warm, rich and creamy. Just what you need on a cold day! This sahlab recipe uses cornstarch as a thickener instead of the more traditional sahlab powder, for ease of use.
What is Sahlab Powder?
Sahlab powder, also known as salep or sahleb, comes from orchid roots and is used to thicken drinks and impart a distinctive flavor. The sahlab powder was originally added to water although milk is more commonly used nowadays.
It can be quite hard to find and comes with a very hefty price tag due to a declining population of orchids.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Perfect on a cold day: This creamy, rich drink is served warm topped with cinnamon to warm you up!
- Customizable: You can really play around with this recipe. Adjust the sweetness, decide for yourself how thick or thin you want the sahlab to be. Top with cinnamon, nuts etc. You can also make it dairy-free if you’d like by using almond milk for example.
- Great for kids: Kids absolutely love this recipe! If you’re looking for a hot cocoa alternative to mix it up a little, then this is it!
- Milk: It’s best to use whole milk, for optimal flavor and richness. You can however replace it with low fat alternatives, or dairy free milk. Just note that the consistency won’t be exactly the same and might be slightly thinner. You might need to use more cornstarch if using a low fat milk.
- Sugar: To sweeten the sahlab. You can really use as much as you’d like. The amount given in the recipe will yield a drink that is on the sweeter side.
- Cornstarch: To thicken the drink. The amount used will depend on the consistency of sahlab you are looking for. For a sahlab drink, you’ll need less cornstarch than if you are planning on eating it with a spoon (as a pudding).
- Flavorings: This is optional, but for a wonderful Middle Eastern feel you can add orange blossom water and rose water.
- Toppings: We love sprinkling cinnamon powder on top of the sahlab. You could also top with chopped nuts.
This recipe will yield a thick, pourable drink. If you prefer a pudding that can be eaten with a spoon, simply increase the amount of cornstarch. You’ll need about 27g (0.95 oz.) of cornstarch for 500 g (17.6 oz.) of milk. Sahlab pudding pairs really well with Middle Eastern kaak, or crushed sesame breadsticks.
- Prepare two mugs and set aside.
- Place the sugar in a medium-sized pot and pour the milk over it. Then add the cornstarch and whisk until fully combined. Make sure there are no lumps of cornstarch before moving on to the next step. Tip: It’s best to add the cornstarch last. If you add it first and then pour the milk over it, it will stick to the bottom of the pot making it harder to whisk the ingredients.
- Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly (to prevent lumps). This will take about 13 minutes.
- When bubbles start forming on the surface of the sahlab, slightly lower the heat (medium). Keep heating for about 2 more minutes, until thickened. The sahlab should boil for at least two minutes to cook the cornstarch and get rid of any starchy taste.
Consistency of the sahlab drink: The sahlab will be thick, yet pourable and will coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the orange blossom water and rose water, if using.
- Pour into the mugs, top with cinnamon powder if desired and enjoy warm!
And that’s it! Hope you give it a go!