Sahlab aka sachlav is a favorite cold weather drink in Israel. As soon as the air begins to turn crisp you can find it petty much anywhere.
Traditionally, sahlab is made from the flour made from orchid tubers.
However, since these tubers are becoming endangered, in common to use artificial flavoring or to use rose water.
The first time I had sachlav was with a good friend visiting from the States.
Like me, he is bi-cultural and grew up moving up and back between Israel and the States.
He is one of the few people I can connect to on this level. One of the biggest challenges in my life was feeling like I didn’t fully belong anywhere due to belonging to two cultures and countries.
However, despite moving to Israel the same year, he is four years older than me and we grew up in different parts and subcultures of the country.
So, we are always sharing different perspective and experiences.
Sachlav is a good example of this.
Sachlav is more popular in Tel Aviv – where he grew up – so I’d never tried it before.
One December when he was visiting we were walking around Yafo he got some.
The smell was intoxicating and he offered it to me but I had a bite of shawarma an hour earlier.
I decided on the spot that my goal for the next day, which we were spending in Jerusalem, I was going to have some sachlav.
Now I get it half the time I pass buy a place that sells warm drinks (the other half the time I get hot chocolate).
The Ancient Romans used ground orchid bulbs to make drinks, however it became particularly popular in Ottoman Empire.
Its also became common England and Germany before the rise of coffee and tea.
In England, the drink was known as saloop and was flavored with orange flower or rose water
Saloop was popular in the 1600 and 1700s. It was sold in coffee houses place of tea and coffee, which were much more expensive.
However, it’s popularity declined when it started to be used as a treatment for STDs, so drinking it in public became shameful.
Originally sahlab was prepared much like tea and coffee.
The orchid powder was added to water until thickened, then it would be sweetened and milk was added to it.
Today, warm milk is exclusively used instead of water or it is made by steaming milk.
Also, since the orchids have become endangered due to over harvesting, artificial flavoring or rose water are used instead of orchid powder.
Sachlav usually topped with cinnamon, coconut shavings, and nuts.
In cheap coffee stands you’ll usually find cinnamon and coconut shavings, however in cafes it will usually be served with chopped peanuts or pistachios.