Tag: israeli food

Sachlav Rose Water Pudding

Sachlav (also pronounced sahlab, salep, or saloop) is a popular warm winter drink in the Middle East. Even though I spent an entire year living in Israel, this light rose water pudding made it past me somehow and my first taste of it was actually in a restaurant in Brooklyn, named Bissale. I was reminiscing about my Bissale experiences in this recent post, and the fragrant rose water drink just came back to me.

I thought a rose water scented pudding would be the perfect way to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, when Jews commemorate the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. It is told that Mount Sinai was covered in roses at the time the Torah was received, so many communities have a custom to decorate their homes and synagogues (as well as Torah scrolls) with roses. Persian Jews even refer to this holiday as the Feast of the Roses and in some Sephardic synagogues, it is customary to sprinkle rose water on the congregants.

Rose water, which is made by steeping and distilling fresh rose petals in water, is featured in many Sephardic desserts and pastries. It can be purchased at most Middle Eastern and specialty food stores.

Sachlav was traditionally made with ground orchid tubers called sahlab. The tubers of the orchid were dried and ground up to create a fragrant powder that thickens the milk into a pudding. Nowadays, cornstarch, which is cheaper and easier to find, is used to thicken the drink. Sachlav is usually finished with a touch of orange blossom or rose water, but some prefer to forgo the fragrant waters and garnish it with coconut, cinnamon and/or nuts and raisins.

Sachlav is usually served in the winter, like a Middle Eastern hot chocolate. Personally, I have a weakness for hot pudding (I always eat chocolate pudding boiling hot, right out of the pot) so I’m good eating it all year long. If you prefer a cold pudding, you can set the sachlav in the fridge, and serve it up like traditional malabi.

So what’s malabi? It’s a cold rose-water-scented milk pudding, that is pretty similar to sachlav, except it’s usually garnished with raspberry syrup and pistachios. If you’d like to turn this recipe into malabi, simply pour into serving glasses, let cool and then refrigerate until set. You might want to garnish it with my strawberry rhubarb compote for a seasonal garnish that would compliment the rose water really well.

1 year ago: pesto & goat cheese crostini
2 years ago: sundried tomato olive tapenade

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Stuffed Roasted Eggplants

With the chagim behind us, I think we can all use some light and healthy recipes for a while. While I’m transitioning to a low carb diet, I don’t want to feel hungry, and I definitely don’t want to feel deprived. For me, the trick is to spice it up, so that I’m not left with bland and boring bowls of salad. Preparing healthy recipes that are packed with flavor helps to curb my cravings and keep me satisfied. Which brings me to this recipe…

Fire-roasted eggplants are traditionally used to make chatzilim or babaganoush, but using them as a base for the Israeli salad really turns this dish into a complete meal. I like to smear roasted garlic hummus on the eggplant when it’s piping hot and then load it with Israeli salad, sprinkle some chickpeas all around, and finish it with a drizzle of tahini and olive oil. Feel free to load on your fixings of choice. Feta cheese works really well too!

It seems like every recipe book I open has a different recipe for Israeli salad. You’d think it impossible to come up with so many variations, it’s a salad after all. But that’s just the thing. Israeli salad is almost as diverse as the people who eat it. Some like its texture to be chunky, others tiny. Some load on the fresh herbs, others stare clear. Take my husband and I. He’s squarely a tomato & cucumber kind of guy. No onions, no herbs. Just 2 simple veggies, in a ratio of 2:1. Me? I’m not too picky. Leave out the cilantro and I’m good to go. Feel free to follow my basic recipe below, or create your own.

What’s your favorite way to prepare Israeli salad? Share it with me in the comments below!

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