The Jew And The Carrot

Sachlav: The Hot Chocolate of the Middle East

By Devra Ferst

A mug of warm apple cider, a glass of mulled wine, or a cup of hot chocolate is the perfect thing to take off the chill as the air gets nippy and sometimes coming in from the cold isn’t quite enough to warm us up. But what do Israelis – in a country that historically doesn’t grow cocoa beans and doesn’t cook much with apples or wine – drink when the weather turns (albeit later in the season)?

Sachlav, sahlab, salep, or saloop (depending upon where you are) is the quintessential warm winter drink of the region and is particularly popular in Israel. A thick milk-based drink traditionally made with orchid tubers called sahlab in Arabic, its preparation varies from country to country. Some recipes call for orange blossom or rose water, while others add coconut and cinnamon or nuts and raisins. In Israel it is usually made into a thick but drinkable substance, while in other countries like Turkey, where it is called salep, it can be thickened into a sweet pudding that must be eaten with a spoon.

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