It's very cold this year in Egypt, and to warm one's self, one of the most popular hot drinks is Sahlab. Sahlab is made from the starch found in the ground bulb of the orchid, Orchis mascula . The starch, which can be purchased in Egypt as a powdered mix, thickens the milk while giving it a unique flavor. However, it is more difficult to find Sahlab mix outside of the area. Here is a recipe to mimic Sahlab, using cornstarch as a thickener.
* 1 1/2 tablespoons Sahlab powder or 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* 4 cups milk
* 3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
* 2 teaspoons rose or orange-blossom water ( optional )
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
* Ground cinnamon
Mix the Sahlab powder or cornstarch with a few tablespoons of milk. Bring the remaining milk to a boil. Pour in the starch mixture, stirring vigorously, so that lumps do not form. Cook over very low heat, stirring continuously, until the milk thickens ( about 10 minutes). Then stir in the sugar and the rose water or orange blossom water, if you so desire.
Serve in cups with the chopped pistachios and cinnamon as garnish. You may also sprinkle grated coconut on top.
Last Updated: June 7th, 2011