A hot, sweetened, milky drink relished by Turks in the winter

Made from ground orchid root and milk, salep has been treasured on the streets of Istanbul and in Turkish homes for centuries. Here’s why it’s special.

As a little girl battered by the Istanbul Strait, few questions occupied my mind when taking ferries during the winter. There was one question of hers that, frankly, was really bugging me. With the ferry rocking, steam wafting from the froth of tea, and risking losing my balance, I ventured to the food kiosk and asked hopefully.Brother, do you have a salep?(Is Salep yet?)

If it was a summer’s pleasure to toss a piece of ‘simit’ from a ferry’s top deck to competing seagulls, eagerly chasing their favorite treat on the wind, then the fog, rain, and perhaps snow that cloud Istanbul Sip a hot salep indoors while watching the weather. The Strait from the cozy window was a delicious winter delight.

Made from ground orchid root grown in Anatolian soil, the history of this hot, sweet, milky Ottoman drink dates back to ancient Roman times when it was called ‘Saturion’ or ‘Priapiscus’.

“Rahat-i can… sihhatu’l-ebdan… talim-i nefayis…” This may sound like a mantra from a bygone age, but such thoughts are not far from the truth. If you were walking through Eminonu, which literally means ‘rest of the soul, wellness of the body, and a delicious experience’ centuries ago, narrow cobbled streets are lined on both sides by Ottoman wooden mansions, where men melodically I can hear you yelling this. It is common to sing rhymes while selling salep.

In Turkiye, Ottoman Empire, street vendors have been found carrying copper pitchers filled with salep, the traditional drink that keeps Turks warm during the winter months. (Musab Abdullah Gangol / TRTWorld)

In fact, as Priscilla Mary Aisin notes in her book The Bountiful Empire: A History of Ottoman Cuisine, almost two centuries ago, Friedrich Unger, Otto’s chief confectioner in Greece, in 1838 describes the spectacle of these salep sellers with intimate accuracy: These appear before dawn, as the lower classes often enjoy this drink for breakfast. I also carry a double-bottomed tin pitcher with hot coals to keep Saleb warm. A wide leather belt is fastened around the waist, to which is attached a thin crescent-shaped wooden container, in which a cup and a can of grated ginger are placed. ”

Street vendors were a big part of Ottoman culture. In fact, historical records show that Ottoman Sultans would regularly disguise themselves and go out into the city with their courtiers to purchase from them and ensure that justice existed in the marketplace. Court records show that he overpriced the product, made the food without the required amount of filling, sold the product at a lower weight, and committed other possible offenses. Anyone who is found to be guilty will be held accountable.

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The account of Evliya Celebi, a famous Ottoman courtier and traveler and author of ten volumes of Seyahatname, reveals how popular Salep was in 1638, with 200 in Istanbul alone. There was a human itinerant salep seller. However, its popularity extended well beyond the borders of the Ottoman Empire, with export records consistently showing large quantities destined for Europe. In fact, as Isin writes, Captain James Cook had 18 kg (40 lb) of salep powder on board before setting sail on his 1768 Pacific voyage, which he claimed was due to scurvy. Called ‘saloop’ or ‘salap’ by the British, salep was sold on the streets of London in the 17th and 18th centuries before coffee arrived in the 19th century. After that, it lost its support.

Salep was sought as much for its pleasant taste as for its many health benefits.The 11th-century Islamic philosopher, mystic and physician Ibn Sina (Ibn Sina), known in the West as Avicenna devotes a section of his book al-Qanun fi al-tıbb (The Code of Medicine). It was studied in all the medical schools of medieval Europe right up to the Renaissance.

Interestingly, in 1931 it was even a government requirement that schools in Turkiye provide 2 grams of salep to all middle and high school students to ensure their health and well-being. Salep continued to be sold on pharmacy shelves until the 1970s.

Salep is used in dishes, including savouries, and even outside the kitchen.To this day, it is used as the main ingredient in Kaymak ice cream, giving it its unique consistency, long setting, and creamy flavor. Interestingly, a pigeon stew recipe found in the 16th century mentions the inclusion of salep not only as a flavor enhancer, but also as a thickening agent. It has long been used not only in kitchens, but also for paper marbling (marbling art) to process. Despite being expensive, the great masters of this art form continue to use it as a thickener to achieve their best work.

But Salep was more than just a street drink. It was also frequently prepared for household guests. In the evening, if we had a sudden visitor, we were offered a snack called “”.hotelIt is served with salep or boza, another winter drink, this time made with sweet millet, containing fresh or dried fruits and nuts.

Naturally, it also serves as the inspiration for the ornately designed porcelain, silver and copper mugs.sailprik– As pleasing to the eye as it is to the taste buds of the Ottoman Turks.Each salepric piece has exceptionally fine detail, such as the brushstrokes that form the flowers on the porcelain cups and the hand-etched engravings on the metal cups. You can see

A late 19th-century Ottoman saleplik, adorned with gold and colorful flowers.

A late 19th-century Ottoman saleplik, adorned with gold and colorful flowers. (Credit: Nev Muzayedecilik)

Even if it’s expensivetruth Much like saffron, ‘salep’ (original salep) is only needed in small amounts to make an Ottoman delicacy. “more(herb shop) or at any number of shops in the Spice Bazaar – just highlight what you’re asking for truth ointment.

Don’t be fooled or disillusioned by the many ready-made salep mixes available on the market. Provides the consistency that nature provides. These quick mixes don’t offer the possibility of an authentic experience and don’t come close to the true taste of salep.

Sure, it’s no longer accompanied by the poetic and melodic cries of Salep vendors serenading the bygone masses, but itinerant vendors still shout their wares in the busy streets of Istanbul, and Salep celebrates the cherished winter throughout Turkey. As far as its preparation is concerned, today’s recipe remains largely loyal to its predecessor: salep root is ground to a flour-like consistency and cooked in milk but mostly sugar Sweetened only and sprinkled with ground cinnamon, no grapes… molasses, honey, rose water, ginger powder, etc.

You can sit in a cafe, cross the Istanbul Strait by ferry, enjoy the charm of the city’s moody silhouette, and savor salep during the winter months, usually from late October to March.Of course some sources truth Grab a salep (and perhaps an ornately painted or carved saleprick cup from one of the antique markets) and savor it in the comfort of your own home all year round.


400ml whole milk

Base “Hakiki ointment” (original ointment) 3g

3 teaspoons sugar

Mix cold milk, mashed salep and sugar in a saucepan. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and keep stirring until it boils and looks like a thick pudding. Serve in cups and sprinkle with ground cinnamon and/or ginger. Sugar can be substituted with honey or molasses, and rosewater can be included if desired.

Source: TRT World

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