Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sahlep, Saf Sahlep

Sunny days are glorious aren’t they? Today it looks like spring is going to give us a few hours of sunshine. I have kicked everyone out of the house and am sitting here in peace with a steaming cup of Sahlep in my hands. What is that you ask…?

Pure delight in a cup.

Sahlep is a creamy, milk based drink that is served during the winter months in countries surrounding the Mediterranean. Think cocoa without the chocolate…hard I know. I discovered it on a recent trip to Istanbul where they served it in delicate little cups every morning in the lobby of our hotel. I was completely addicted with the first sip and it will forever embody the essence of Istanbul for me. 

Delicate and flowery, Sahlep is made from the dried tubers of a mountain orchid. The tubers are ground to a fine powder, which when mixed with milk and sugar, and sprinkled with cinnamon, yields a delicious beverage. Unfortunately, because of the popularity of the drink, the orchid is now considered endangered and export of the powder is banned, making it very hard to obtain here in the United States. 

Having discovered it, however, I couldn't bear the thought of not bringing some home. Braving the crowds of Istanbul’s Spice Market, I dragged my husband on a search for Sahlep powder. Success came at the price of my pocketbook, but I think I’d pay almost any price for the yumminess in the cup in front of me.

Teşekkür ederim, Turkey! (Thank-you!)

Sahlep (Makes 6 servings)
4 cups (1 liter) milk
2-3 tsp. pure saf sahlep powder
2-3 Tbs. sugar (to taste)
Cinnamon for garnish
Ground pistachio nuts (optional)

Combine the sugar and sahlep powder in a medium saucepan and mix. Slowly add the milk stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat and pour into demitasse cups or small mugs. Sprinkle with cinnamon and pistachio nuts.

If you can get your hands on some Sahlep powder you are in for a treat. I was able to find the powder here, but I don’t know if they are a reliable supplier.

Here also, but this is the instant powder, which I was told is not as good.

Also, here are a couple of Sahlep links I found interesting.
Anissa's...a cool picture of salep in the raw 
In Transit

All links good: 7 January 2012

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing about your delicious treat!
    And also the beautiful photos of Istanbul.


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