The invitingly warm Middle Eastern sweetened milk drink called Sahlab. A delightful winter warmer of choice. This is a healthier vegan sahlab recipe.
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What is Sahlab Drink?
Sahlab is a popular Middle Eastern hot sweetened milk drink, consumed on wintery days.
It was introduced to the Middle East and nearby countries by the Ottoman Empire.
Due to its thickened consistency, when consumed it can be felt warming your insides making it the perfect winter warmer.
It is enjoyed as per any other hot beverage and generally topped with crushed nuts or ground cinnamon.
😋Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This is a vegan sahlab recipe
- It's so inviting! The thickened consistency warms your insides as it makes its way down into your stomach
- No refined sugar, this version is mildly sweetened with maple syrup
- You can sip or dunk your favorite cookie into it
- Dietary friendly - dairy free, gluten free, dairy free, nut free*, soy free, corn free and oil free
🥛Ingredients You’ll Need
Dairy free milk I have chosen almond milk. Please note the type of dairy free milk you select will alter the coloring slightly. You could try it with hemp seed milk. Traditionally sahlab is made with full cream milk.
Cornstarch is used to create the thickened consistency of this sweetened milk drink, which is still sippable.
Tip: the ratio of milk to starch is 4:1.
Maple Syrup is used in this recipe instead of the traditional white sugar. You can adjust the amount of sweetness, I have found one tablespoon per cup of dairy free milk to be sufficient.
Mastic is a resin derived from the mastic tree. It has a mild pine-like flavor and is best used in its pearl like shape. It needs to be ground before using in this recipe. Mastic can be found at your local Middle Eastern / Mediterranean grocer or you can purchase it here. If you can't obtain this ingredient, just leave it out.
Tip: ensure the mastic is fully ground into a powder prior to adding the rest of the ingredients. Avoid chunks, as these will be very chewy.
Rose water and or orange blossom water is added at the end, for a lovely floral flavoring. You can opt to use both or one. A little goes a long way with this ingredient which can be found at your local Middle Eastern grocer or you can purchase these here (my preferred brand).
Optional - Sahlab powder (/salep سَحْلَب) is the flour made from Orchis mascula and Orchis militaris (orchids). This is the traditional ingredient of this Middle Eastern sweetened milk drink, however due to its scarcity and cost, it is now often omitted.
For this specific recipe I have left it out, however if you were to use it, it would be 1 tablespoon per litre (≈⅓ fl.oz) of milk. Sahlab powder gives this drink the most luxurious hint of stretchiness, and a slight floral taste. If using this ingredient, you can leave the other flower waters out.
🥄 How to Make Sahlab
Step 1 - In a small pot, whisk the dairy free milk with the cornstarch until fully dissolved. Then place on the pot on medium heat, add the mastic and maple syrup and whisk continuously until a pourable thickened consistency has been achieved. The milk should just start bubbling gently. See tip below.
Step 2 - Pour into serving cups, topped with either cinnamon powder, desiccated coconut or crushed pistachio. Serve warm.
Tip - When heating and whisking the sahlab it will go through the first stage of thickening (slightly thicker than the original consistency) keep whisking until it thickens further. It should still be pourable.
Some popular toppings found on sahlab are cinnamon powder, desiccated coconut, crushed pistacchio. You could even try it with sultanas, raisins or dried rose petals.
Sahlab is to be sipped on in the winter time as it is a warm drink, some people like to dunk their favorite cookies into it, such as sweetened bread sticks called kaake.
There are many Lebanese desserts made of milk products, you may also like vegan milk pudding call muhalabia, or this vegan rice pudding called riz bi haleeb or haytaliyeh which is another simple Lebanese milk pudding.
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Sahlab Warm Middle Eastern Sweetened Milk Drink (سحلب)
- In a small pot, whisk the dairy free milk with the cornstarch until fully dissolved. Then place on the pot on medium heat, add the mastic and maple syrup and whisk continuously until a pourable thickened consistency has been achieved. The milk should just start bubbling gently. See note #1
- Pour into serving cups, topped with either cinnamon powder, desiccated coconut or crushed pistachio. Serve warm.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.