I promise you, by the end of the article you will get to know at least one new winter drink of our region (if you live in the middle east don’t cheat please hehe). Let me first brief you about our whether in winter, it is not crazy cold! but the issue is, it gets very dry; and dry winter gets directly to your bones with no permission. As a result, you feel fatigued and powerless all day long until you hit your body with a cup of warm drink that energizes you.
Sahlab – Orchid Drink:
To be accurate, this drink is a traditional winter beverage that was discovered in the 14th Century during the Ottoman Empire. Extremely popular in the Western Region of Saudi. Salep powder is produced from the bulbs of some species of orchid family “reason behind the name”. If you fail to find Sahlab powder you can prepare it from: Milk powder, Sugar powder, Rice powder, Corn starch, and vanilla; in additional to the water and the toppings.
It is a white, thick – smoothie like- hot drink. You will perceive many milky creamy notes along with ricy hints and starchy chalky mouth-coat. Now what makes it so unique, is your choice of “Toppings”! Cinnamon powder is a must topping, you can add with it any of the following: Coconut, Nuts (Walnut, Almond, Pistachio) with these you will create a mixture of different textures. You can put all of these toppings together to get the warming effect.
This tea is simply “ridiculously if i may say” Black tea with evaporated milk infused with major warm spices! yes that’s it! some prefer one spice only, personally i like them all in one cup – they blend so well-. Main spices: Cardamom and Saffron, I add little sprinkle of clove powder; some add Cinnamon and Ginger – i don’t like them with this tea-.
You will taste intense tea flavor (you can increase/decrease it), the evaporated milk gives you creaminess and cooked milk notes, and the spices with the tea and milk gives you a premium indulging sensation. The texture is not thin as thin as tea, slightly thicker and heavier on the tongue. Unfortunately, I highly recommend that you add sugar to this drink! sweetness adds a lot to it’s flavor. Originally, Karak tea is called “Masala tea” in South Asian countries, and Chai Adani in Yemen. in the Gulf we call it Karak. the differences between them are: 1- the milk being used, 2- the spices added.
In winter, Ginger is the King! all fridges in Saudi must contain Ginger. We prepare it in too many ways, with/without milk, with or without other spices and flavor enhancers. You must know that we prefer the fresh ginger for drinks “ginger powder mostly used in cooking”.
Ginger tea might contain: grated ginger, lemon and saffron. Or: grated ginger and cinnamon. Could be grated ginger and fresh mint leaves. Honey can be used as sweetener. i recommend these if you are a fan of spicy and sour combinations. Warning: these drinks give you burning warmth not a normal one at all! Personally, i don’t recommend sugar with these drinks.
If you are a fan of creamy spicy blends, try Ginger milk. Heat your milk first -very important- then add grated or powder ginger, don’t heat much afterwards (it may ferment and gives you off flavor notes). You can control the flavor intensity of the ginger by adding more or less. It is tasty when it is sweetened.
Do you have similar drinks in your region? tell us about it.
Have you tried any of these drinks?
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