You might be wondering – what the heck is sahlab?
I thought the same thing when a friend of mine, Evelyn, contacted me and asked me to try it out. For one of her classes at Carleton University, she and some classmates launched a non-profit online store, selling the popular warm drink to raise money for Action Against Hunger.
I was intrigued – I consider myself relatively well-versed in Middle Eastern fare and traditions, despite being a naive white girl, but I had never heard of sahlab. I was excited to try it!
Sahlab comes from salep, a powder derived from orchids. Typically consumed as a beverage, it’s older than both coffee and tea. In the 17th century, it spread from the Middle East and became popular in England. There, it was known as saloop, which was made with hot water.
Nowadays, sahlab is made with hot milk, creating a thicker, richer, creamier version of the drink. Salep is also often used to make pudding or ice cream. The drink is quite sweet on its own, but sahlab is often seasoned with cinnamon, vanilla or pistachios for added flavour.
The verdict – I really enjoyed trying sahlab! Honestly, there’s really nothing not to like. It’s comforting, creamy and delicious, and the perfect warm drink for fall and winter. It’s thicker than most beverages and kind of reminds me of tapioca, but smooth and obviously thin enough to drink.
Making sahlab is really easy – just boil three cups of milk, and then add the powder packet (which you can get at the MixIT store). Stir continuously, simmering, until thickened a bit. Garnish with some cinnamon and enjoy! In case you’re a visual person, they even made a video on how to prepare sahlab on YouTube.
If you’re interested in learning more about sahlab, check out the MixIT Facebook page. A big thank-you to Evelyn for thinking of me and introducing me to sahlab!