//Skip to content
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

The Arab Answer To Hot Chocolate Hits New York

February 6, 2015

It has been revealed that Arabs across the Middle East have been drinking a warm, thick drink with Israeli roots. At least that is what one journalist claimed in his review of sahlab.

Social media users have reacted angrily after claims by a website that sahlab is ‘Israel’s answer to hot chocolate’.

The poorly researched article claims that sahlab is “a hot drink that is to Israel what hot chocolate is” in New York City.

The article reviews one Israeli restauranteur’s introduction of “sachlav” in New York and consistently refers to the popular Arab drink’s ‘Israeli’ roots.

What the writer, Michael Kaminer, failed to recognize was that sahlab’s roots date back to before Israel was created as a state.

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’.

Despite this expression, sahlab is actually derived from the tubers of orchids which are dried and grounded up into flour. 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.

It appears however some people are willing to ignore the drink’s deep-rooted Ottoman and Arab history. Because, in the end, would Americans read an article titled ‘The Arab Answer to Hot Chocolate Hits New York’?

A recipe for all those sahlab lovers!


Today, as it is difficult to find sahlab powder outside the Middle East, cornstarch is used as an alternative. Here is a recipe for all you sahlab lovers hoping to make it at home!

The Ingredients:

– 4 cups of milk

– 3t ablespoons of sugar

– 2 teaspoons of rose water

– 1 tablespoons of sahlab powder or 2.5 tablespoons of cornstarch

– 2 tablespoons of chopped pistachios

– Ground cinnamon on the top

The steps:

1. Mix the powder with a few table spoons of milk.

2. Place milk in saucepan and bring to a boil.

3. Pour in the powder mixture and stir in with the milk, ensure heat is on low.

4. Stir continuously until milk thickens (7-10 minutes normally).

5. Stir in the sugar and rose water.

6. Transfer to a cup, place pistachios, cinnamon on top.

Comments (30)

  1. Arthur C. Hurwitz says:

    I have heard about Sahlab in Israel before but I had assumed, obviously, that it was initially an Egyptian thing
    . I associate Sahlab with Egypt primarily…

  2. jillian1959 says:

    All of the problems in the world and you are fighting over who started this drink? First of all, though Israel is a modern state, Jews have had roots there for over 3,000 years. Regardless….who really can “prove” where this drink originated? I believe we can share the origins of this….by doing so, we can look at our commonalities. We come from the same place, share many of the same rituals, similar language, and yes, food!

    1. Selma Salih Al Maria says:

      Oh please Zionists have taken food from Eastern Europe, Russia, South America, Middle East appropriated it to Israel and now everything has Israeli roots except Jews themselves ….I am so funny I crack myself up but this is a good one 🙂 hahahahah

    2. jillian1959 says:

      I don’t deny the roots of others…why do you feel the need to deny mine?

    3. Kareem Gamal says:

      Because most Israelis have nothing to do with the middle east as most of them immigrated from Europe and other parts of the world, Any cultural claim by Jews in the middle east is originating from the MIDDLE EAST not the religion and certainly not from Israel..

    4. jillian1959 says:

      Actually, we migrated to both Europe and other areas in the Middle East, including Spain, when we were expelled from ancient Israel. But that takes an open mind to learn our history. I wish you some enlightenment. Shalom/Salam.

    5. PentosSun says:

      We all also migrated from Africa. So let’s all move back there.

    6. Kareem Gamal says:

      You’re talking about something that happened in BC. I hardly believe that you can relate yourself to such deep roots, there’s no shame in that. I can’t claim that I originate from the ancient egyptians, our history is full of invasions from the Ottoman empire to the brits and french. There’s no way I’m an original Egyptian.

      I still believe that something as simple as a drink that originated in the middle east, it makes it middle eastern and not specifically Israel, if you believe that your people were the ones that made it (or anything from the middle east in that matter) then please show me how Jews spread their culture in Europe when they immigrated, were they the ones that shared music, science, food or art in Europe?!

      What books that was translated from Israeli figures/philosophers during that time that I could refer to? I’d love to learn more about different cultures, but for everything middle eastern I never found an Israeli mark.

    7. Ikhwanii Extincticus says:

      and you won’t find an Israeli mark. That’s why they employ millions to spread their lies. That’s why they own the worlds media.

    8. Selma Salih Al Maria says:

      I did not deny anything but I am a history professor so if you want to talk history with me you better be well equipped. No one is denying Jewish heritage and presence throughout the Middle East for centuries but you are unable to properly answer my comment so you accuse me of denial.

    9. jillian1959 says:

      Israel is the birthplace of us as a people and as a nation. If you are a history professor, surely you know this. As for our mark on the world, open your eyes. We are Jews, the nation of Israel. That’s our lineage, period. As for owning the world’s media…sheesh. This shows your complete ignorance. Kareen Gamal, I invite you to read the work of the 12th century sage. Thank you for even asking. Maimonides. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Maimonides.html

    10. nyishtar says:

      Actually, Judaism was created in Iraq, not in Israel.

    11. Minymina says:

      I’m sorry but Judaism is a religion. You cannot say Israel is your lineage. That would be like the Christians in Europe claiming they are descendants of ancient Christians in the Middle East.

    12. Siro says:

      This is absolutely factually incorrect.
      Just like the Druze are a unique people with a unique religion, so are Jews.

      They also have clear genetic ties to the middle east:

      “”Ashkenazi Jews share more common paternal lineages with other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than with non-Jewish populations in areas where Jews lived in Eastern Europe, Germany and the French Rhine Valley. This is consistent with Jewish traditions in placing most Jewish paternal origins in the region of the Middle East.””

      see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jews#Genetic_studies

    13. Minymina says:

      Its a mainstream religion which many convert too.

    14. Adam says:

      Your a khazar, do your research!

    15. Selma Salih Al Maria says:

      Actually, Israel is not your birthplace but Caanan region is according to Torah. Israel was a promised land to people that is to Abraham as he was asked to believe and he left with his wife Sarai and his cousin who believed in One God. What does your lineage have to do with impact on the world… unless of course you are talking about genocide Zionists NOT Jewish people are committing against Palestinians.

    16. Egyptian1922 says:

      Exactly. Those Slavic/Germanic zionist imposters are everything but Israeli. They have nothing to do with the Middle East or its culture.

    17. Olterigo says:

      Arabs haven’t invented anything in the last few hundred years. I think the Jews can leave them sahlab.

    18. kefrin says:

      Bravo…hear her!