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.
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!
Makes 1 large serving, or 2 smaller ones
- 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.