Sahlab, as featured in The Jewish Cookbook

A Jew-ish guide to Jewish food: Sahlab

Feeling the chill? Then try this unusual warming winter drink, courtesy of The Jewish Cookbook

It might be 25 degrees Celsius in Tel Aviv today, but, as we all know, the Jewish diaspora isn’t limited to the borders of Israel. In The Jewish Cookbook, author Leah Koenig explains that, just as the Jewish people have spread around the globe, so Jewish cuisine has developed into something “both intensely regional and profoundly global.” And, in many parts of the globe, it’s getting pretty chilly right now. So, perhaps it's time for this restorative winter drink, Sahlab. 

“Hot-chocolate aficionados should try this warm, drinkable pudding that is beloved throughout the Middle East,” writes Koenig. “It is traditionally thickened with powder made from ground orchid roots, but cornstarch (corn flour) makes a fine substitute. Delicate, sweet, and scented with rose water, it is particularly comforting during the colder winter months.” 

You may have come across it – sometimes spelled ‘salep’ - in Turkey, Iran or even in the more cosmopolitan cities in Germany. Curious as to how it is made? Here’s the recipe. 

You’ll need three tablespoons of cornstarch (corn flour); two cups (475ml/ 16 fl oz) of milk; three tablespoons of sugar; half a teaspoon of vanilla extract; half a teaspoon of rose water, and ground cinnamon and finely chopped pistachios for the topping.  

Whisk together the cornstarch and ¼ cup of milk until the cornstarch has dissolved completely. Transfer that mixture to a saucepan and add the remaining milk, and the sugar. Bring it to a gentle boil, stirring often, and cook it until it thickens (this should take 1-2 minutes).  

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and rose water. Let the mixture cool, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Divide between two glasses and top with cinnamon and pistachios, and serve warm. That should keep winter at bay. 



The Jewish Cookbook
The Jewish Cookbook

To learn more about dishes such as this buy The Jewish Cookbook here. It's an inspiring celebration of the diversity and breadth of this venerable culinary tradition. Featuring more than 400 home-cooking recipes for everyday and holiday foods from the Middle East to the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa - as well as contemporary interpretations by renowned chefs including Yotam Ottolenghi, Michael Solomonov, and Alex Raij - this definitive compendium of Jewish cuisine introduces readers to recipes and culinary traditions from Jewish communities the world over, and is perfect for anyone looking to add international tastes to their table.