The stormy weather that has recently showed up in Israel makes every living soul want to curl up under the covers and just watch the rain coming down, preferably holding a hot cup of choco in their hands. While I fully support this as a valid and reasonable option, sometimes taking the brave decision of leaving the house in this stormy season can really pay off.
Israeli winters are famous for their sachlav which is basically, 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 winter and is the perfect way to warm up when it gets chilly outside. We’ve got the inside scoop on the delicious drinks that will warm your soul this winter.
Sachlav is central to a few different cultures: Israelis call it sachlav (pronounced “sock-lahv”), Turks call it salep, and Lebanese call it sahleb. The beverage has been consumed in the region since the Roman ages, and when it’s made with actual orchids, it’s considered an aphrodisiac. Thanks to trade routes and colonialism, it even made its way briefly to Europe and the Americans, although it was quickly eclipsed there by tea, coffee, and hot cocoa. In the Middle East, however, it remains utterly beloved.
In Tel Aviv, sachlav holds almost mythical status, appearing on menus only when the mercury drops in December and vanishing just as quickly as the warm weather returns in the early spring. Bid farewell to winter and step out for a warm mug of Israel’s best.
Everyone has a comfort food for cold winter days. I discovered mine soon after moving to Israel.On one of my first winter trips to the local shuk in Jerusalem I noticed large metallic urns from which merchants were serving a thick aromatic drink.
After pouring a cup of a mysterious steaming thick white liquid the merchant sprinkled some cinnamon. crushed walnuts and dried coconut over it and sent me on my way.
It was then that my love affair with the ever elusive sachlav started.
I have spent hours and hours over years trying to find the best cup of sachlav. Most places will serve you milk, thickened with cornstarch and flavored with rose water and a few spices.
Malabi Dajani (Sderot Yerushalayim 94) is a no-frills dessert shop in the oldest and most southern tip of Tel Aviv. The Levi family has been whipping up perfect sachlav and its sweet after-dinner cousin malabi, a rosewater-scented dessert, for 60 years.
Aroma (Jabotinsky 7) is the ubiquitous Israeli coffee chain with many locations throughout the city. This location in Ramat Gan is just a short walk from the Hotel Indigo
Tel Aviv – Diamond District. Here, the thick and creamy sachlav is garnished with coconut, walnuts, and cinnamon and served in a big glass mug. It’s just perfect for warming your cold hands.
Here is a simple yet delectable make your own sachlav recipe. Like a comfy pair of slippers, sachlav is a creamy drink thickened by ground orchid bulbs (our recipe is thickened with rice flour or cornstarch) and scented with vanilla and rose water.
I really enjoyed sharing my favorite places to escape the winter weather. Relax, catch up and just enjoy the homey feeling of that perfect homey feeling, that you have been craving since you arrived.
Let me know how these cafes rank with what your used to at home.