Sahlab Recipe

Sahlab is a warm and comforting sweet milk drink that's enjoyed throughout the Middle East. It's particularly popular in winter and during the fasting month of Ramadan. Each region adds its unique touch to this pudding-like dessert.

During the Ottoman Empire, Sahlab was prepared using flour made from a special Orchid. Today this Orchid is all but extinct but that didn't stop the Arabs from recreating that authentic sahlab taste with readily available ingredients. Not even a Sultan could taste the difference.

The main flavours are that of cinnamon and Mastic. If you're not familiar with Mastic or Mastica, it can be found in Greek or Middle Eastern stores. It's a plant resin or sap and is sold in crystals. It has a unique musky taste and was used in the old world to make chewing gum. A little goes a long way with this ingredient.


3 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons cornflour
5 small Mastic crystals
2 teaspoons sugar
2 drops of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Garnish options

Crushed pistachios 
Desiccated coconut
Sultanas or raisins


Pour the milk into a cold saucepan and add the cornflour. Whisk until the cornflour is completely dissolved. Now put the saucepan over a medium heat and add the vanilla extract. Keep whisking to avoid clumps.

Add the Mastic crystals to give them enough time to dissolve as the milk warms up. Add the sugar once the milk starts to thicken. Continue to whisk.

Turn off the heat when the milk reaches a thick and rich consistency. Almost the consistency of pouring custard or a thin bachamel sauce.

Ladle into small teacups and top with cinnamon and your choice of garnish. 

Enjoy while it's hot.