Sahlab is the name of a lovely and comforting warm creamy winter drink in the Middle East.
It’s usually served with a crushed pistachio nut topping.
I remember visiting relatives in the winter and coming into their house from the cold.
Then sitting down in the warm room feeling my cheeks thawing from the cold wind outside.
And being given this warm and lovely dessert is a memory I will never forget.
What is Sahlab?
Sahlab is a Middle Eastern milk pudding, usually served to warm you up on a cold day.
Kind of how we drink hot chocolate in winter.
Sometimes other nuts and raisins are incorporated along with rose water or orange blossom to give it a unique flavor.
The powder sahlab is like magic, it turns your milk and cream into a yummy thick and nutritious pudding.
This is all thanks to a flower that is a real beauty in itself.
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.
How to Make Sahlab
It is very similar to making pudding.
Start by heating milk and cream until warm.
Combine the sugar and the sahlab, then add to the milk and cream.
Using a whisk, stir constantly until it gently boils.
Turn down the heat and add the rose water.
Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.
Then, pour the mixture into small bowls and chill in the fridge for an hour.
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.
How to Make Sahlab Powder
Sahlab can be difficult to find in a normal supermarket.
I would recommend trying your local Middle Eastern specialty store, if you have one.
Otherwise, you can make a homemade imitation of sahlab with just one ingredient.
Sahlab is basically the thickener for this dessert.
For each tablespoon of sahlab, substitute it for ¼ cup of cornstarch.
Tips for Making
- If making a drink, then pour into mugs or glass cups for an authentic look.
- Sprinkle toppings 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.
- 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!