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Turkish healthy drink; Sahlep (Salep).. What is it and how to make it

Selam everybody..... Merhaba from Turkey

Winter 'officially' comes in our town. After raining since last night follow by soft snow fall down turns Bursa into uniform color-white... hhhh.... finally fresh air and softness cool. And nothing can comfort us in this such weather better than hot yet nutritious beverage.

Salep or Sahlep or sahlab is a powder made from the tubers of the orchid genus orchis (including species Orchis mascula and Orchis militaris). These tubers contain a nutritious, starchy (about 10%~30% starch) polysaccharide called glucomannan (about 30%~55%). 

Salep flour is consumed in beverages and desserts, especially in places that were formerly part of the Ottoman Empire.

The root of the plant is collected in Sahlep season (May and June). Collected tubers are cleaned by washing with water, boiled in water or milk, and hang on a rope, then air-dried. The tubers are pounded to dried powder. The obtained powder gives sahlep powder ready to used product. Widely used as raw ingredients like dondurma (ice cream) also as beverages. It'll swell when used with ice water and milk. 
1 kilogram of pure sahlep powder produces from around 2 thousand 600 orchis tubers. So no wonder the price of pure sahlep powder is very expensive about 300~400 TL per kilo.

Dolayısıyla bir yumrudan gelişen bitki geriye yine bir yumru bıraktığından bitkinin yumrularından çoğalması mümkün görülmemektedir.
orchis plant and tubers
Besides dessert and beverages, this sahlep now believed can fight diarrhea in children and babies. And some universities are doing some research about this plant for some healthy treats.
It has some health benefits such as breast softens, use for fight Cough and bronchitis, It relieves constipation, Improve mind activities, It strengthens the heart, ensures regular menstrual bleeding, warmth the body.

You can easily find this orchis plants In Turkey especially in Kastamonu, Muğla, Antalya, Izmir, Mersin, Yozgat, Çankırı, Çorum, Siirt, Van and Hakkari region.

Sahlep is one of winter drink beside many other beverages because it warmth our body. You can make sahlep drink from instant mixture sell in every market/ shop here. Generally it sell in a packet for one glass (250 ml) per packet or big family packet with dosing instruction per serving. Beside plain sahlep, there is also variant mix with gum mastic (damla sakızlı sahlep). 

Mostly instant sahlep added with thickener to give thickness on your sahlep. Few years ago I didn't mind to have my sahlep from instant sahlep (mostly people do), it's simple, just boil milk and pour into a mug filled with sahlep. But this winter I want taste real sahlep from pure sahlep powder (saf sahlep).
And here how to make sahlep from pure sahlep powder. Basically it's not far different from making this from instant one, just this sahlep drink from pure powder has thinner consistency that instant one. Adding pinch of starch is optional according to your personal taste.

How to make sahlep beverage:
  • 1½ tsp pure (saf) salep powder
  • 1 lt milk (you can mix with water but total should still 1 lt)
  • sugar or brown sugar or honey depending how sweet you wanna go
  • 1 stick (5 cm) cinnamon
  • pinch of starch (cornstarch or potato starch)-optional
  • Cinnamon powder to serve
Cook milk with cinnamon stick to shimmer. In small bowl mix sahlep powder , starch-if using and sugar (if using honey, add it later). Temper sahlep powder with about one cup of shimmering milk, whisk vigorously to prevent lump. Pour back into boiling milk pan, stir to combine and continue to cook few more minute until slightly thicken, stir continuously.
If you use honey as sweeter, add in this stage.
Serve over personal mug and dust with cinnamon powder.

Afiyet şeker olsun. Enjoy.

Gıda hattı
Bitkisel sağlık vakfı



  1. How interesting. I wonder if we can get that in the US. It is very intriguing! Thanks for educating me on Sahlep!

    1. İ believe it sold as instant sahlep, maybe you can try in middle eastern section in market. Hope you can find it soon.

  2. I had never heard of Salep before, but it seems so good and good for you! Thanks for sharing. Your pictures are lovely!

  3. I'm really curious about this. I don't know where I would find salep powder. If I can find it, I'll definitely give this a try!

  4. Sounds very intriguing and looks like it would be delicious, warm and comforting! Perfect for winter!

  5. Yum! This sounds so warm and comforting.


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