The weekend is rainy and gloomy. It’s the kind of weather that begs you to cuddle up with a hot beverage and read a book or watch a favorite movie. At my house, I’ll just settle for the hot beverage and some sweet bread sticks for dipping. No watching movies or reading, at least not when two toddlers are up and around on a Saturday morning. Well, between the two adults, we divide and conquer!
As my daughter goes down for her morning nap, and my son starts working on his painting techniques, I excitedly make my way to the kitchen to prepare the sahlab. Excited, because I recently acquire some sahlab powder from back home, and haven’t had the chance to use it yet. Sahlab is the powder of the dried orchid root with the same name. It’s a rare find in this form (as pure powder); typically, it’s found as a prepared Sahlab mix to add milk to, and can be purchased from any Mediterranean store. In Lebanon, sahlab powder is used to make sahlab pudding, arabic ice cream among other things as it adds a distinct flavor and aroma to the end result. It also acts as a thickening agent, lending a unique consistency similar to the thick silky ribbon formed by egg yolks over a double-boiler.
Routinely, we make sahlab pudding. Today I felt like making it the Turkish way, as a drink. In fact, sahlab is so popular in Turkey, especially in ice cream, that at some point the high usage threatened the number of orchids. The drink is close to eggnog in texture and much less in calories. Simple and delicious! I began by pouring some milk in the pot, adding cornstarch, sahlab powder and sugar and mixing it well. With a whisk, over low heat,the milk simmered gently while I kept whisking to avoid scorching the mix. The end result was be a foamy, light and thickened liquid that covered the back of a spoon. I turned off the heat and added the orange blossom water, orange zest and mastic powder, stirred to incorporate well and poured in a cup topped with cinnamon. I’m salivating as I write this post and will probably go make another batch for the afternoon. I hope to have the chance to try this. You can certainly use the boxed mix, follow direction on the box and add the final step (orange blossom water, zest. mastic).
Orange Blossom Sahlab Drink
3 cups milk, whole
2 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp sahlab powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp orange blossom water
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/8 tsp mastic powder
Cinnamon to sprinkle over individually