Sahlab! The Israeli winter milkshake.

It’s been unusually freezing here in Jerusalem the last few weeks… or maybe it’s because we have no heat in our building. Either way, there are tons of way to warm up (piles of blankets? heated argument with Mizrachi neighbor? watching the news?) but my favorite at the moment is Sahlab. It’s a warm, milky drink accessorized by sugar, cinnamon and pistachio. You could say it’s an Israeli winter milkshake.

Here’s a Sahlab recipe for the daring out there… or you could do what we did and buy “אנסטנת סחלב” (Instant Sahlab) from your local super:






29 responses to “Sahlab! The Israeli winter milkshake.”

  1. shimshon9 Avatar

    Great idea – I am going to get one instant Sahlab now!

  2. Yosef Avatar

    Still never had it!

  3. eliesheva Avatar

    Come over and I’ll make you instant sahlab. Cafe Hillel’s is ok, Coffee Shop’s is good.

  4. Avi Avatar

    They have Sachlab at the shuk.

    Never had it, though

  5. Jonparker Avatar

    Fantastic drink. How does the instant stack up to the Shuk?

  6. Katherine Avatar

    all great except for those of us who don’t drink milk. hmm… I wonder how it tastes with soy milk.

    I hadn’t thought about arguing with the neighbour, but right now I would probably end up in tears rather than just pleasantly invigorated. The best thing for houses without heating is hot water bottles. Oh and maybe to work for the electricity company and get free electricity – our last bill was 600 shekels. Ouch!

    winter winter go away, come again another day!

  7. Jonparker Avatar

    Yay for weird and delicious drinks! But how does the instant compare with the Shuk’s?

  8. sara Avatar

    Damn…the very best one from a mix was the Kahan foods one, the Telma one is lame. But this year I can’t find the kahan one. Doh!

    Katherine – from how it is, I’m pretty sure it would be pretty good with soy milk. But that recipe doesn’t seem to have the sachlav flavor?

  9. my sad alter ego Avatar

    Whoops, I should have signed in here as the link to my blog about life in Israel, not that one. Too late now! I love that stumbleupon thing though…cool.

  10. LN_cello Avatar

    Sara, indeed the sahlap itself (also took me a while to find out long ago) is missing from the ingredients:
    quick Google yields this:,
    For sure there’s more to be discovered about the sahlep mountain orchid in other places.
    I’d love the coconut flavour added, though. First drank it in the Old City. Great drink to warm up with when it gets as cold as app’ly it does now in J’sem!

  11. JM Avatar

    viva sahleb!

  12. fadasdf Avatar

    Israeli sahlab!!! wft!! not only u steal land, but everything, pesky thieves

  13. elie Avatar

    aw, c’mon fadasdf, can’t we all just get along?

    1. Hanan Avatar

      No, that is the point, stop stealing our lives!

      1. ema Avatar
        Sahleb has been a part of the lives of millions of Jews for centuries. Get over it. No one is stealing your life. Respect the lives of others.
        Greeks also enjoy it. Why don’t you complain how they steal it?

        Can’t you leave anything out of your hate campaigns?

        1. Hanan Avatar

          Of course Jews who lived in the Arab world enjoyed it, because they were in the ARAB world! BTW Palestine has been part of the lives of millions of Arabs for centuries and no we are not going to get over it!

          1. ema Avatar

            There is no such thing as “Arab world”. There is one world and many different peoples in it. There are many Arab countries. Those countries have others besides Arabs that are forced to live as Dhimmis. Israel is the Jewish homeland. The State of Israel is a democracy with laws protecting the freedom of religion of her citizens. Some Palestinian Jews are and others aren’t Arab.
            Jordan and Syria are two countries already created from Palestine for Arab Muslims.
            I pity people so eaten up with bigotry such as yourself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone quite like you before, so hate-filled that even an Israeli milkshake recipe is used as an excuse to attack Jews.

          2. Really Avatar

            The fact you are calling it Jewish homeland is a faschist statement. And you say can’t we all get allong. Sahlab is as israeli as Falafel and Houmos which you also stole like the lands and lives of millions. Its not jewish hating. Some of my best friends are jews. But zionists are faschist (.)

  14. doyk Avatar

    Nothing wrong with saying Israeli sahlab. Most of us Israelis are from the middle east and our parents are from Arab and other Middle Eastern states. Nothing was stolen here. But I must say that Israeli sahlab (the kind made from Israeli companies and typically bought in Israeli supermarkets) is aweful! They don’t use real Sahlab (grounded stems or orchid flowers) for the thickening agent. Rather they use just plain corn starch. It’s going cheap. It essentially does the same thing however, but if you buy Sahlab powder in a Lebanese market, you will get real Sahlab as one of the ingredients. Top with cinamon, coconut, and crushed pistachios, and enjoy!

  15. SPM Avatar

    Now sahleb too is Israeli? Apparently so is Hummus, Falafel, Shawarma, etc. Just because Israelis eat these foods, that does not make them Israeli. I eat Challah bread and I am an Arab, does that make Challah bread Arabic?

  16. ema Avatar

    What kind of ignorance is this that so many don’t know that most Jews in Israel have ancestry in the Middle East for centuries?
    Mizrahiyim have eaten the same foods as others in the same lands before we were kicked out of so many countries. Jews from Arab lands whose parents spoke Arabic are the majority of Jews now in Israel. Sahlab is popular in Israel. If you are close to Talpiot, stop by Mifgash Hashech, have a cup and settle down. You’ll get an ulcer with all that hate.

    Why does everything about Israel have to be contaminated with ignorance and hate. Can’t you just enjoy the fact that more than one tribe of people and more than one country enjoys this Middle Eastern treat? Arab Muslims and Arab Jews aren’t the only people who like this. It is also enormously popular with the Turkish and Greeks.

  17. Hanan Avatar

    Ema, you must be one of those people who believe if you talk loud and long enough you will be right. This is my last word, Palestine will never be forgotten, this conversation is obviously not about sahlab, Jews are welcome to eat mansaf if they like. But what Israel and Jews who support it are not welcome to do is run an apartheid state in the heart of the Arab world. Btw, this “bigoted, hate-filled” person has a Jewish step-mother who is much loved and cherished.

    1. ema Avatar

      Parroting notorious hate propagandizing that contradicts Israeli laws with the lie that ” Israel is an apartheid state in the heart of the Arab world” continues to show your obsession to spread vile bigotry. Your attempt to cloak your irrational hate with a claim of loving and cherishing a Jewish stepmother is just another spin on the common theme of a bigot who hurls an epithet and claims that some of my best friends are Jewish. That isn’t going to fool anyone who has ever visited Israel, or who isn’t likewise sick with irrational bigotry.
      You insult those who have actually lived under apartheid regimes to so misrepresent that term to render it meaningless.

      You’re also obviously projecting. After I’d already corrected your delusion of an “Arab world”, you behave as if by repeating it then escalating with a new lie you can change reality.

      Your last lies were just as disgusting to see fouling up this forum with abusing it to propagandize hate and incite violence as the first.

      Sahlab remains a favorite Israeli treat. If that fact incites you to the behavior you’ve displayed here, my best suggestion to you is to seek professional help.

    2. ema Avatar

      “Ema, you must be one of those people who believe if you talk loud and long enough you will be right. ”
      Projection out the wazoo.
      It is you, the war mongering propagandist, who depends upon repeating the lies to try to convince people to ignore reality.
      I’m one of those people who believes that evidence and reality always eventually trump lies no matter how loudly or often they are repeated.

  18. Rozy Avatar

    I’m neither Jewish nor Arab, so I don’t have a political agenda here talking about a damn milkshake. The issue is why you feel the need to call it an “Israeli” milkshake”? What is Israeli about it? That you’re drinking it while in Israel? When you are out eating pizza somewhere, do you also need to call it Israeli pizza? It shows a kind of insecurity really. Everyone has been drinking this there (and throughout the region), long before the place was called Israel. So you arrive, and you discover this nice drink. And it becomes Israeli? Hilarious. Is it like a “finders keepers” sort of thing? I enjoy exploring food from many cultures, and I can rave about it without feeling the need to pretend it’s mine. I think that’s what these commenters are annoyed about. Just call it delicious. Don’t rewrite history.

    1. elie Avatar

      I gotta say, back in the day when I wrote this, I wasn’t about mine or theirs. It was a drink I first discovered in Israel. Didn’t have it when I was anywhere else. So that’s all I really knew. Didn’t read a history textbook on the drink before taking my first sip, either. Things have changed, I’ve learned along the way. We all do. The politicizing of national foods drives me nuts too.

      1. ema Avatar

        Thank you to the author of this piece for a little reminder of sanity to the insane who hijacked a simple thread about MILKSHAKES for goodness sake as a place for political and bigoted war mongering, How hypocritical to turn this into Jew vs Arab rhetoric and claim that if an Israeli milkshake recipe is called Israeli it’s rewriting history? I’ve never seen similar accusations or challenge (and of course there is no logical reason to do so) for renaming some of the ancient foods I see others listed as “Arab” recipes that existed among others who were there prior to the Arabian conquests, Interesting. So, by that logic,none of the indigenous peoples who existed there had foods native to them before the Arabs arrived? That is another example of a lack of logic and politicizing of national foods. Yes, it drives me nuts, too thus leading me right back in a circle to my original commentary to those who hijacked a thread about a MILKSHAKE ( as I noted back in Dec 2011..)
        How irrational to abuse even a thread about FOOD for political propagandizing, then claim to not hate Jews or wish to deny them same human rights as all other peoples to exist in their homeland in peace yet will then turn around and contradict that claim to say Zionism (the belief that Jews should have the same basic human rights as all other people to exist in their homeland in peace) is evil in same breath!

        Those who hijacked your post with hate continue to show everyone that logic isn’t a strong suit of promoting bigotry.

        Some of those foods listed also existed before the Arabs conquest of the larger portion of the Middle east and North Africa and were created and eaten by the indigenous peoples. If you don’t even recognize which foods listed that they are and what native peoples created them ( neither Jews or Arabs) then that’s fine, too. I don’t have a problem with calling recipes Arabic when Arabic speaking peoples give me the recipes, and indeed, some of the recipes changed over time with ingredients added by new peoples… but I do have an issue with bigoted propagandizing, war mongering and horrific lies to support it. How low and ugly a display to be called fascist (I’m not going to use their misspelling)for recognizing that the Jewish people actually have a homeland ( place of origin as a people) or refer to an Israeli recipe.

        The behavior on this page is a microcosm of what Israelis deal with on a daily basis.

        I don’t know if humans will ever get along as long as this kind of behavior is accepted in societies. I’ll continue to hope that enough sane people refuse to accept hate and bigotry and work to get along with others in honesty.I will never resort to the tactics of those who project their irrational bigotries onto the objects of their irrational attacks.. It doesn’t inspire hatred in me to have it dumped on me, it inspires pity for those who have those inner demons they want to project and a stronger resolve to overcome it with justice, mercy, compassion and integrity.

        Remaining silent to hate is never a path to overcome it. That’s why I came here in the first place. I’m happy that the author of this piece came forward to REMIND people that this was about a RECIPE..not an invite to fill a page with hate speech to bash a people and a country or rewrite history!

        Thanks again.

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