Tourists enjoy delicious cups of hot salep at a traditional kiraathane (coffeehouse) in Kadikoy, a neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul Pillartopost.org photo
Turkey’s hot winter beverage is
delicious and indescribable.
By Thomas Shess, Pillartopost.org Editor in Chief--This time of year my taste buds somehow remind me they’re in the mood for a delicious cup of hot salep. We discovered this hot beverage in Istanbul on the Asian side of the Strait of Bosporus. Salep is only made in winter and is commonly found everywhere in Turkey.
We had left our tour guide to explore Istanbul’s eclectic Kadikoy neighborhood. It was still early in the morning when we noticed a nice looking outdoor café with a long row of café tables covered in festive red cloths. The waiter was standing next to a barrel sized metal container that we learned contained hot Salep. He urged us to try the beverage, which was served in tea cups and at first looked like a warm cup of egg nog.
It was love at first taste.
Salep is as intriguing as Istanbul. It’s an ancient drink that is made from a white powder extracted from the dried tubers of wild orchids found in the countryside.
Because real salep is so hard to make most buy powered salep—even the Turks. But those hospitable cafes all over Istanbul serve the real salep and tasting we did.
As mentioned it looks like egg nog. Salep, however, is creamy a bit thicker in texture than egg nog and not quite as sweet. The liquid is grainy and served with cinnamon and bits of pistachio nuts (don’t over do the pistachios). More words of description escape me.
When in Turkey find yourself a salep serving café and enjoy one of life’s great beverage adventures.
In America, salep power is retailed by the Mado brand. It’s easier to order from Amazon.com.
There are other brands of salep, including Nestle but my trials in making homemade salep always return to the round tin of Mado.
Editor’s note: The above article recalls an Istanbul of past, less violent time. It is sad how this dynamic and historic city has been the recent victim of barbarians at the gate.