Photo credit: Sonya Sanford

Warm Up With Israeli Sachlav This Winter

An aromatic, comforting winter warmer.

In Israel, warm, aromatic sachlav is as popular in cold months as hot chocolate is stateside. Sachlav is a drink found across the Middle East, Iran, and Turkey, and is made with warm milk that is thickened and sweetened. It is spoonable while still being drinkable, and its flavorings differ slightly depending on who is making it. Sachlav is most often perfumed with rose or orange blossom water, gets spiced with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and is topped with finely chopped nuts. 

Traditionally sachlav is made with sahlab, which is a flour made from orchid tubers. In place of sahlab, you can easily thicken your sachlav with cornstarch. Additional swaps or substitutions are listed in the recipe. This sweet and floral treat is very easy to cozy up to during the darker, colder months of the year. 

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A comforting winter drink.

  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4


  • 4 cups whole milk or coconut milk, divided
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out of the pod
  • 3 Tbsp sugar or honey, or to taste
  • ¼ cup cornstarch or 3 Tbsp sahlab powder
  • ½ tsp rose or orange blossom water, or to taste
  • pinch of salt
  • finely chopped pistachios
  • shredded coconut
  • ground cinnamon or cardamom


  1. Whisk together ¼ cup of the milk with the cornstarch or sahlab powder to form a slurry.
  2. Heat a pot over medium-low heat and add the remaining 3¾ cups of milk, sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Once the milk is hot but is not quite simmering, whisk in the slurry. Continue to whisk or stir the milk with a spoon, until the sweetener completely dissolves into the liquid, and the sachlav thickens enough to coat a spoon, about 3-5 minutes. Note: If whisking, your milk will become frothy like a cappuccino, if using a spoon it will thicken more like a custard; make sure the liquid never reaches a boil.
  3. Once thickened, remove the sachlav from the heat and add the rose water or orange blossom water. Taste, and add more if desired. If the mixture becomes too thick for your liking, dilute it with a little more milk.
  4. Serve the sachlav alongside your desired toppings, like chopped pistachios, shredded coconut, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. 
  • Author: Sonya Sanford
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Israeli


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  • Ellen in WNC

    I can hardly wait to try this! Last time I was in Jerusalem, it was Khanukah ’12, I clearly remember the call of the sakhlav vendor as he wandered the streets with a tray of cups, hung by chains, still steaming. The aroma was as delicious as the beverage, and I listened for that sound every remaining day of my visit. There was also a street vendor that had a huge brass samovar, with customers lined up in front of the booth to get the fragrant sakhlav. One of my favorite tastes of Israel.

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