So to bring back a little bit of Israel home tonight, I am picking my favorite Israeli drink for tonight’s Drink of the night – the Sachlav. This past trip to Israel I rediscovered this truly delicious Israeli born warm milk drink. And as I ate my way through Israel, I got into the habit of ordering this drink as my nightcap – last drink of the evening.
Sachlav is for all intense purposes, the Israeli version of Hot Chocolate – yet it is not usually chocolate and is more a drinkable warm vanilla pudding. This thick warm milk concoction is the drink of choice when the weather turns just the tiniest bit cold in Jerusalem.
The drink Sachlav is traditionally made and thickened with the ground bulbs of the early purple orchid (called ‘sachlav’ in Hebrew and Arabic). The tubers of the orchid are dried and ground up to create a fragrant powder that thickens the drink. In place of Sachlav, cornstarch is more often used to thicken the drink, because it is cheaper and easier to find.
Popular throughout the middle east, this drink’s recipe varies from country to country. In Israel, you will find your milk-based Schalav served warm with the addition of shredded coconuts, nuts, raisins, cinnamon and the occasional shredded chocolate. I personally prefer those café’s that serve my Sachlav thick almost pudding like, topped with tons of coconut, raisins and nuts.
So even though I am off this evening to oversee the Bikur Cholim event that I have been working hard on the past few weeks. I have all my ingredients prepped so that when I come home tired with aching feet, I can snuggle up with a warm cup of this delicious drink and decompress and finally enjoy a job well done (I hope!)
And it makes a delicious breakfast in the morning as well!
Adapted from Gil Mark’s “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.”
4 cups whole milk
½ a cup (or less) cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon or more cinnamon
¼ shredded coconut
chopped toasted almonds, pistachios, or non-salted roasted peanuts
1) Mix ½ cup milk with the cornstarch (or actual sachlav, if you can find it). Mix it well with a fork to avoid clumps.
2) In a pot combine the remaining milk with sugar (you can add more or less sugar depending upon your taste), allow the sugar to dissolve (about five minutes).
3) Add the cornstarch mixture to the warm milk and stir constantly, bringing the mixture to a boil. Then, cook it for two minutes as it thickens.
4) Remove it from the heat and add the vanilla (orange blossom water can be substituted).
5) Into three or four mugs place raisins, and or nuts. Then, pour in the sachlav and top with cinnamon,nuts, cocoa& shredded coconut.