December 21, 2014 • Category: Beverages
Sahlab is the name of a popular drink in Lebanon. It was introduced here by the Ottomans who ruled the region for four centuries. That is why one can find it served at cafés in Istanbul as well as in Beirut. It is made by stirring milk with some sugar and a whitish powder (the actual sahlab), which is extracted from a flower and gives the drink its characteristic creaminess and fluffiness; the actual sahlab powder is not sold in the US (to my knowledge) but one can easily find at middle-eastern or mediterranean stores a sahlab mix in a box. The sahlab mix in the US is usually made of cornstarch instead of the real sahlab, as it is cheaper to produce.
To make the drink from a drink, simply follow the directions on the box. To make it from actual sahlab, mix the sahlab with sugar and add to the milk, stirring continuously till the drink thickens and gets very warm, which can take about 20 minutes.
4 cups milk
1 tablespoon sahlab (or cornstarch, use 4 tablespoons)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon rose water
Cinnamon, ground, as a garnish on top
1. Place the milk in a saucepan and add the sahlab previously mixed with sugar. Stir and bring to a simmer, and keep stirring until thickened. Add the rose water and stir to mix. Transfer to cups and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve with crackers or kaak.
NOTE: If the quantity of sahlab is not sufficient to thicken the mixture, add more, 1/2 tablespoon or up to one tablespoon. If unable to source the sahlab, substitute cornstarch and double the quantity (4 to 6 tablespoons cornstarch)
66 Comments • Comments Feed
I love sahlab and tell all my friends they need to try it. I think it’s right up there up with coffee, tea and, cocoa. Do you all eat the sahlab dessert as well there? I love both!
On December 21, 2014 at 4:35 pm
@Noor: Which sahlab dessert? there is ice-cream which has sahlab in it. I did a pudding a few years back with sahlab. The problem is in the US not finding it. In Lebanon, it is available “real”. Love it too!
@Athene: He probably got it in Turkey or somewhere in the ME and is selling it. The color of sahlab is like a very pale grey. The one I showed in this post is mixed with sugar so it looks whiter. I would have never thought of e-Bay, good luck! 🙂
@Ivy: It is sad to see all these traditions go by the wayside! Love your photo of the sahleb vendor 🙂
On December 21, 2014 at 4:44 pm
There’s a US vendor on ebay selling unadulterated (or at least that’s what he/she claims) salep (sp.) powder; he/she ships it from Denver CO – see item description of the powder, its purity and provenance. The seller’s store name is mogemici.
I have no experience with this seller or even with sahlab powder, but I have wanted to try it for a long time. This may be the nudge that I’ve needed.
Hope this helps.
On December 21, 2014 at 6:06 pm
In Greece it is called “salepi” and it is one of those things that I have never tried because it is sold ONLY by street vendors. Salepi is definitely going to extinct in Greece in a few years as there are a handful of them left, I think sahlab is made from the tubers of a kind or orchid. I guess the taste will not be the same if substituted with corn flour.
On December 22, 2014 at 6:26 am
What’s wrong with street vendors, some.of the best food in the world come from them, shame on you.
On September 3, 2018 at 9:32 pm
I would be happy to send you some from Saudi. Here we get it from Lebanon . Yes, the pudding is what I meant. I have never tried or made it, just heard of it.
On December 22, 2014 at 2:22 pm
@Noor: Thanks so much, I am in Beirut so I have access to it. I did a pudding by simply using more sahlab and cornstarch. It is the same taste, just a thicker texture.
On December 22, 2014 at 5:07 pm
Nuts about food says:
I am reading a novel that is based in Istanbul and they mention so many typical foods and drinks that are not further explaines. I am so happy to have found this catching up on my post holiday blog reading.
On January 9, 2015 at 8:20 am
Hélène (Cannes) says:
ça, je ne connais pas du tout … Je demanderai à mes Libanais de la rue Rouaze …
On June 24, 2015 at 5:45 am
@Helene: c’est surtout une boisson d’hiver. Mais le sahlab est aussi employé dans les glaces l’été! 🙂
On June 25, 2015 at 5:18 am
The Waffle Chef says:
I love sahlab, now that I’m Paleo I thought I would have to give it up but luckily I found a recipe online. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this.
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On September 22, 2018 at 7:09 pm
My parents came back from Turkey with some salab! Hooray, I’m not about to spend 400$ for 500g, so i stick to svet musli, shatavari, ashvagandha… But to have this fragrant stuff is a real treat. I dunno if it’s cut with something to prevent caking, but it’s better than nestle ‘salab’, kosher my ass.
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On December 6, 2018 at 8:17 am
Alex You are so right.
When I first went to Israel, there were street vendors on every corner with their red and green carts selling falafel etc. Then Health & Safety caught up and these were stopped. If you are lucky you may find the odd one selling bread products. I never heard of anyone coming to any harm back in those days and I am still around to tell the tale :-).
On December 16, 2018 at 1:17 pm
The recipe never says how much or what kind of rice. 🙁
On December 31, 2018 at 7:03 pm
The recipe never says how much or what kind of rice, which is the main ingredient. 🙁
On December 31, 2018 at 7:03 pm
Joumana Accad says:
The recipe is for a drink called “sahlab” and does not use rice, but milk
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On January 20, 2020 at 9:39 pm
Just made this right now and I’m eating it as we speak 😁. I accidentally made it to thick to drink but no problem it’s still yummy! Amazing recipe! Brings back so many memories in saida 😍.
Thank you 💃🏼✌🏻
On January 21, 2022 at 2:16 am
@Miriam Happy to hear and enjoy! Glad it is bringing back good times in Saida! Love Saida! That’s where my grandmother’s family lived and worked for a long long time..
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