Arrowroot Mock Sahlep recipe

Arrowroot Mock-Sahlep

This drink is based on a winter-time Turkish beverage called Sahlep. Traditionally, it is made with wild orchid roots, and the taste proper sahlep, served out of giant brass urns, is incomparable. However, with the decline of wild orchids, it’s important to look for alternatives, especially when (to my knowledge) one can’t get true sahlep outside of Turkey.

Arrowroot powder is a quirky thing. Dry, the consistency is like cornstarch, with that inexplicably squeaky feeling. The taste has sharp anise undertones that mostly disappear when it’s cooked. The resulting beverage is thick, flavorful, spiced, and soothing. It’s heartening after a turn out in cold weather, or as a relaxing kind of nightcap before bed.  

Proposed Location?

Braavos. I can’t quite say why, but I suspect because the bustling crossroad of cultures reminds me of Istanbul. I imagine the fishmongers, sailors, and other tradesmen retiring to cafes in the chilly evenings, or as winter sets in, for a nice hot mug of steaming goodness. I know I would!

Mock-Sahlep Recipe

Makes 1 large serving, or 2 smaller ones

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk or water (milk is better!)
  • 3 Tbs. cold water
  • 2 1/2 tsp. powdered arrowroot
  • pinch each nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 2 or more Tbs. sugar, to taste

Bring the milk to just under a boil. In a small separate bowl, combine the cold water and arrowroot. When the milk is bubbling, pour the arrowroot mixture into the pot, and whisk together. When the mixture looks thickened, add spices and sugar to taste. Pour into a mug and serve hot.

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6 Responses to Mock-Sahlep

  1. A_Boleyn says:

    It’s amazing that this hot drink would come from something as exotic as the roots of a wild orchid. I’ve heard of it, interestingly enough in my travels on the culinary posts on the internet and was surprised to see it here … don’t know why as you have the most interesting mix of dishes. :)

  2. Mikey F. says:

    I love the wild origins of this hot drink. It will be in my To-Try list.
    :)

  3. John W says:

    Sounds more like Dorne drink. I’ve always envisioned Dorne as a stand in for Turkey which has always been sort of a bridge between Europe and the Middle East.

  4. Khalil says:

    My wife and I made this for breakfast along with eggs, pita bread, olives, labne, zaatar, and some sliced cucumbers. The sahlep was delicious. I used 2 1/2 Tbs of sugar, and it was almost too much. Next time, 2 Tbs should be enough. We also used rice milk instead of real dairy. It probably wasn’t as thick as real milk would have been, and we were probably missing out on some of the creaminess, but I still plan on making this again.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  5. crittermel says:

    I make this using powdered milk and combine everything in a pretty tin. Add hot water, and it’s a great drink for my frigid office or a camping trip. I love this drink!

  6. Jenn says:

    I just made this with almond milk…delish! Perfect treat on a cold day.

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