I remember visiting relatives in the winter and coming into their house from the cold, shaking off my wet boots, (it does get cold in Jordan) and unbundling my coat to the beautiful aroma of this delightful dessert.
Then sitting down in the warm room feeling my cheeks thawing from the cold wind outside.
And then being given this warm and lovely dessert is a memory I will never forget.
Sometimes other nuts and raisins are incorporated into this sahlab drink, along with rose water to give it a unique flavor.
Now the nice thing about this recipe is that if you make it a bit thicker, which I like to do, you can make a pudding that is delightful.
It can also be found in ice cream with a Middle Eastern twist.
The powder sahlab is like magic, it turns your milk and cream in to a yummy thick and nutritious pudding, all thanks to a flower that is a real beauty in itself.
What is Sahlab Made Of?
The powder comes from a type of orchid roots or tubers which are dried and ground into flour.
The Romans used to make a drink from grinding up orchid bulbs, which became popular in the Ottoman times, and then spread to Europe and the Middle East.
It is said that because this drink is becoming more and more popular that the orchid is becoming increasingly hard to find parts of Iran and Turkey.
It surprised me to learn that it takes between 1000 and 4000 orchid tubers to make one kilo of flour, so needless to say it’s an expensive product.
How to Make Sahlab
It is very similar to making pudding.
Milk and cream are heated.
Sugar and the other ingredients are added while constantly stirring.
Depending on how much of the thickener you put in you will end up with anywhere between a thick custardy drink and a lovely pudding.
And it really doesn’t have to stop there.
There are all kinds of options like putting fruit at the bottom, or sprinkling it with raisins and cacao nibs, or coconut.
But you get the idea, this pudding is a great launching pad for your favorite flavors and tasty treats.
- Add the milk and cream to a saucepan over medium heat.
- Mix sahlab with the sugar.
- Heat milk mixture until warm.
- Add sugar mixture and stir constantly with a whisk until you get a gentle boil (stirring all the time).
- Turn down heat. Add rosewater.
- Remove from heat and pour into small bowls.
- Chill in the fridge for an hour and then enjoy!
Nutrition Per Serving
If making a drink then pour into mugs or glass cups for an authentic look.
Sprinkle topping on using as much or as little as you like.
If making the pudding this will be the time to stir in whatever flavoring, fruit, or chocolate chips, or pralines or whatever else takes your fancy.
In the Middle East food plays a big part in people’s lives, and you will find that most social occasions revolve around food, and bring people together, whether around a table in the living room, or a picnic, the goal is to spend time with friends and family.
This is certainly something I appreciate about living here in Jordan at the moment.
The social aspect is something special and of course brings back memories of another time, when Amman was a small city, and a traffic jam was something only seen on TV.
Today is different, Amman has grown up to be a metropolis where traffic is a headache, and the pace of life fast.
At least I have my memories of a time when a nice dessert was all I needed to make the world right.