Sunday, February 13, 2011

desert dessert

is it tacky to say that egypt is so hot right now?
forgive me, but i'm kind of right.
all's i can hope is that area of the world (which i very much love), will figure their isht out and be able live in harmony and freedom, happily ever after.

now my story. on a vacation in the sinai desert (the northern part of egypt) about six years ago, i got to experience a tiny (read: touristy) bit of life in an arab country. 
there were camels on the road, a hot blazing sun, amazingly clear aqua-green sea, and beautiful mountains against the bluest sky. rather than chairs and tables, we reclined on comfy, albeit sandy pillows on the ground, and consumed the most freshly prepared and deliciously spiced grilled seafood, cooked beans, okra, teas, coffees, and sweets.
at one such meal i ordered a warm dessert called sahlab. (that's a strong 'h' like you're clearing your throat).
it's a liquid-y pudding that was apparently once a popular beverage all over the "old world". it was served to me warm, in a tall glass, with a long slice of banana in it, and cinnamon and pistachios sprinkled on top. i devoured it with a spoon. it's one of the tastiest things my brain can think of.
fast-forward a few years, and my brain had one of those taste flashbacks for sahlab, like i would explode if i didn't have it.
for reals.
after google-ing everything from arab restaurant menus to stores, i found a grocery store nearby that had the goods. a box of powder containing corn starch, sugar, and sahlab (roots of orchis mascula-a type of orchid).
this "instant" powder just needed to be added to milk and cooked in a pot until it thickened up. it is then super important to add a tablespoon or so of rose water (also available at your fine local arabic grocery store establishment), because i'm telling you, the rose water makes it. i served it up for some friends with banana, cinnamon, and roasted pistachios. 
just like it was in egypt.

a martini glass!? pshh.

hey. good luck guys!

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