Sahlab, a drink derived from the tubers of orchids which are dried and grounded up into flour, is a popular winter drink, like hot almond milk. The tubers of <em>Orchis macula</em> are boiled, dried, then ground to a gray powder that, cooked in milk, makes a tasty creamy drink.
Sahlab has been known since ancient times as a nutritious food and also has been used as medicine. The hot drink, normally consumed in winter, was first introduced across the Middle East by the Ottoman Empire. In fact, a popular myth states that the name ‘sahlab’ is derived from the Arabic expression ‘hasyou al-thaalab’, which in English translates to ‘fox testicles’ as the tubers are said to resemble fox testicles, it was considered an aphrodisiac. Easily made at home with powdered root sold in packages.
The drink was first popular in the Levantine region and Egypt, particularly during winter. The sweet, thick and delicious drink’s popularity spread to the extent that it was introduced in England and Germany before tea and coffee became everyday drinks.