Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Two Turkish Drinks (Iki İçecek Türkçe)

In all my Turkish cooking and baking in 2013, there is definitely an importance placed on some of the beverages consumed on a regular basis.  Tea is what is mentioned most often, served as a sign of hospitality and consumed throughout the day.  Most people are aware of Turkish coffee served in the tiny cups, but what about sahlep? 

Since Christmas I have attempted to make Turkish coffee and sahlep, and this is the tale of the two drinks.

I read the directions for Turkish coffee many times before my first attempt.  Use only the most finely ground of Turkish coffees, and use the very specific pot that is wider on the bottom with a wooden handle.  (I got these for Christmas, so that was easy. Check!) Mix the coffee into the water cold. Stir in sugar and a pinch of cardamom. Let it just come to a boil and pour some of the foam into the cup.  Let it come just to a boil twice more.  Well, it never completely boiled, since I had it at such a low heat.  I let it pucker a bit and called it good.  I had no idea if I had done it right, but later that week we had "Egyptian" coffee at an Egyptian restaurant and it tasted pretty much the same.  So hooray, now I can make Turkish coffee!  

Sahlep is a hot drink, often consumed on snowy winter days, which is supposed to be made from the sahlep powder, from the orchid that is also used for the so-called chewy ice cream.  I was in an international market and got very excited to find sahlab powder mix. There is even a picture of an orchid on the cover!  It was not until I got it home that I realized it is just salep-flavored cornstarch.  I was so disappointed!   Plus it is from Lebanon, not Turkey, which explains the language variation.  I do not believe I have had sahlep as of yet, but am on a quest for the actual powder.  At one point, when reading about chewy ice cream in The Kitchen as Laboratory, I learned that it was illegal to export salep from Turkey.  If this is the case, I will not get to actually try this drink until I make a visit.  It seems like a warming drink, even if what I made was not authentic. If you find salep powder, the New York Times had a pretty simple recipe for it.  The box mix I picked up recommended also adding a little orange or rose water to it when serving it.

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