Simmering Sachlav

Written by
Yoni Cohen
Sachlav is Israel’s answer to hot chocolate. This sweet, thick and creamy drink made from ground orchid bulbs can be found all over the place during  the  “Israeli Winter” and is the perfect way to warm up when it gets chilly outside. We've got the inside scoop on the delicious drink that will warm your soul this winter
Topping it Off
Like with most classic comfort foods, it’s all about the variations and toppings. Sachlav is no exception. While it can be made using just orchid powder and milk, most traditional recipes call for orange blossom or rose water to add extra flavor. Popular toppings are coconut, cinnamon, pistachios and sultanas.
Flour Power
Sachlav is traditionally made from ground orchid bulbs. The tubers of the orchid are dried and ground up to create a fragrant flour, which is used as a basis for the thick and creamy drink. The flour is made from the orchid genus Orchis, including the Orchis mascula and Orchis militaris species.
Herbal Remedy
Orchids have been used in herbal medicine for centuries and have been found to restore the body after disease. Orchid root has been found to help cure coughs and colds, meaning sachlav is a perfect option for when Israel’s cool winter nights leave you feeling under the weather.
Speak Up
In Israel, this winter warmer is commonly known as Sachlav, but for those travelling a bit further afield it’s worth knowing how to ask for it different languages. Here’s a mini guide - Turkish: salep, sahlep; Persian: sa’alab; Arabic: saḥlab; Albanian: salep; Azerbaijani: səhləb; Greek: salepi; Bulgarian: salep.
Ancient Imbibe
Even though it’s widely considered a Middle Eastern drink, sachlav actually dates back to the Romans. It arrived after it became popular in the Ottoman empire and spread throughout the region. 
Sexual Healing
Sachlav is known for warming things up - even in the bedroom! For centuries it has been considered an aphrodisiac. Maimonides, the prolific Jewish philosopher and astronomer, noted that one should drink sachlav “to revive the spirits and to arouse sexual desire.” If that wasn’t enough, even Swiss physician Paracelsus said that Sachlav had the power to restore a man’s virility and passion.

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Top places to warm up with Sachlav

1. Mifgash HaSheikh 
The best place to warm up on a cold Jerusalem day or night with a fresh sachlav is at the Mahane Yehuda market. While there are plenty of options to choose from, Mifgash HaSheikh, which is full of personality, is famous for its sachlav. 
Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem
2. Aroma 
Israel’s largest coffee shop chain lacks authenticity, but it makes up for it by offering a very comforting sachlav. Topped with coconut, walnuts and cinnamon, Aroma’s sachlav is great for mainstream sachlav on the go. 
(branches nationwide) 
3. Abouelafia Bakery
For a taste of authentic sachlav, head to Jaffa’s Abouelafia Bakery. Served out of a huge, traditional metal vat, the sachlav at this local institution is first rate and is always served with a smile. 
7 Yeffet St, Jaffa

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