In the bitterest depths of an Ankara’s or Istanbul’s winter, you might see emerge an old men pushing steaming brass samovars containing a creamy drink. (Often also selling Boza that I talked about last week)
This drink dates from Ottoman times, it is called Sahlep.
Sahlep is a mix of hot mastic milk, sugar, and flour made from orchid tubers served with cinnamon. Unlike boza that is a fermented drink, this is sweet and creamy!
My kids say that it tastes like rice pudding!
Many Turks drink it for its purported therapeutic qualities, but it’s also delicious and the perfect antidote to a chilly winter’s day.
To keep you warm, enjoy your Sahlep with a paper bag stuffed with freshly roasted chestnuts (kestane kebap)!
The word “salep” comes from Arabic: سَحْلَب (saḥlab) which means literally fox’s testicles (the name of the orchid because of its look)
Salep also refers to the flour made from the tubers of the orchid. The Salep flour is consumed in beverages and desserts.