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Article: Mert Kaya
Warms The Winter Nights
Although carbonated beverages are part and parcel of our lives today, sahlep, one of Turkey’s traditional drinks, continues to warm the long, cold winter nights.
Sahlep is a plant that grows wild in the mountainous regions of the east. The sources state that Anatolia is its home. A member of the Orchid family, it is the tubers on the roots of the plant that are used. Sahlep’s journey begins with the gathering of those tubers, whose degree of hardness determines the drink’s quality and intense aroma. After being picked, they are boiled in either milk or ‘ayran’ (yoghurt thinned with water), dried and pulverized in a mill.
TASTY AND HEALTHY
Prepared with milk, sahlep is an elegant drink with a scrumptious taste. Sprinkled with cinnamon, it is an effective remedy for coughs, sore throats and bronchitis, and thanks to its thickening properties also a popular additive in ice cream. The mucilage it contains is useful in treating disorders of the stomach and digestive system.
A RARE PLANT
Endemic to Anatolia, sahlep is difficult to cultivate and farm and is therefore largely collected from nature. So that its supply will not be depleted, gatherers need to be made aware not to take all the tubers on the plant’s roots but to leave at least one of the mature and all the baby tubers in place.