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Hot Turkish Wintertime Drink – Salep

Exploring and wandering the wonderful streets of Istanbul, tea and coffee stops are inevitable. Recharging the batteries and soaking up the atmosphere of a bustling city steeped in history and culture. Istanbul is a busy  city all year round… literally heaving with people!  On entering one of the many cafes, and scribbled on a chalk board,  I noticed hot Salep on the menu and was told… “we make the best!” Ditched the usual Turkish Tea and ordered Salep. Who was I to argue whether it was the best, this was my first taste of this very popular Turkish wintertime drink.

A nice change from drinking a hot chocolate or a winter spiced latte, this hot thickened milky drink (the taste of semolina was the first thing that came to mind) was served with a dusting of cinnamon on top.  Although a little overly sweet I did enjoy this warming drink and found Salep quite filling.

Salep (Sahlab, Saloop,) is a nutritious starchy flour derived from the tuberous root of a certain species of Orchids. In Turkey export of pure Salep flour is apparently illegal, as over harvesting of their Orchids (Turkey known for the best Salep flour) has led to its decline. Salep is also used in the famous Turkish Dondurma ice cream.

Throughout the Middle East, Mediterranean, Europe and Asia drinks made using Salep were enjoyed for centuries and touted as an aphrodisiac (a botanical Viagra) and a restorative for the young and old. London’s industrial era served many a labourer Saloop (flour derived from British Isle Orchids ) in the early morning hours, a hearty drink flavoured with orange blossom and rose-water to kick-start a long and hard-working day.

Pure Salep flour is expensive and many use cornflour as a substitute or use a mix of both (both have thickening qualities) and say it tastes like the real thing! Some say Salep flour has little or no taste and others say it has a slightly floral taste. Can’t say I noted a floral taste when drinking Salep as the cinnamon was the dominant flavor. Maybe some Salep drinking experts can enlighten me on the subject.

Purchased a box of flavoured salep/sahlab at a local supermarket which contained the ingredients; sahlab, sugar, mastic, rose and orange blossom flavour to try… it turned out way too sweet and overly perfumed for my liking.

This is my way of making a faux style Salep (which tastes just as good) using glutinous rice flour as a thickener, preferring the creamy results it gave over the cornflour.  However, cornflour may be used and here is another recipe and other information on Salep. Camping season has begun in Bahrain and the desert can turn very cold… so why not treat family and friends to this warming winter time drink.


Winter Warming Hot Salep


  • 8 level teaspoons of glutinous rice flour (sweet rice) (found at asian supermarkets)
  • 1 litre of full-fat or low-fat milk
  • sugar or honey, to taste

Flavour Salep with:

1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water OR rose-water, per cup


a light dusting of cinnamon powder

garnish with some finely chopped pistachio, if desired.

How to make: Add the glutinous rice flour into a medium saucepan, using a whisk, slowly mix in the milk until smooth. Bring the milk mixture to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 3 minutes to thicken and cook through, stirring often. Sweeten with sugar to taste, add desired flavouring and pour into cups, serve hot. Alternatively, pour the unflavoured Salep into cups and let each person flavour their own. Serves 4

Have you tried Salep before? Do you have a favourite wintertime drink?


Food Photography and Styling Workshop Day 2

Arriving at the Miele Gallery and still digesting the mass array of food from the previous days workshop…  it was a quick cup of coffee then straight into a busy days schedule! Metta (Food Stylist and Photographer) gave each team assignments to work on throughout the day, which would later be evaluated, discussed and critiqued at the end of the workshop!

Sally Prosser (Social Media Strategist and Activator) ran us through some social media strategies for food bloggers… leaving us with thoughts to ponder on, reasons for blogging and our goals! Interactions with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media platforms were covered, discussing some of their advantages and disadvantages!  Afterwards Meeta went through some basic post-processing, using lightroom and Photoshop to enhance images… touches that make such a difference using good post-processing software!

Somewhere between all this information from Sally and Meeta we had some very tasty morsels (Mreqqed – Marinated Eggplant above) prepared by the lovely Dima Sharif, a food writer, educator and recipe developer!

Dima, already very busy in the kitchen was preparing a Traditional Moroccan Menu (Pumpkin Soup, Lamb and Aubergine Tagine, Couscous with Toasted Almonds and Sesame Crusted Almond Cookies) for us to shoot and eat… and a delicious feast it was!

Running through one of her own styling demos Metta showed how her thought process works when styling a photo shoot. Choosing appropriate props, freshness of ingredients, creating a certain mood, colours, textures, the story you want to tell, placement of props and food, lighting, focus and angle are some of the important elements to think about before taking a photograph!

Armed with all the information Metta had given us, we worked our way through our assignments, each taking on roles as cooks, photographers and stylists as the day progressed…  it really was a very action packed kitchen!

Cynthia Farhat and the Miele team were always ready to give a hand when needed, which was much appreciated! Tavola supplied the lovely props and utensils for us to use throughout the workshop… glad we have a Tavola in Bahrain! Working on some post-processing, each team presented some final images for evaluation and it was really interesting to see how each had interpreted and styled their given teams assignment!

A delicious finale dinner prepared by Chef Russell from Lafayette Gourmet and a Spanish paella fiesta from Tapeo ended the workshop! The food on this workshop was outstanding but I must say, the taste of the Heritage Angus Steak from Canada, simply pan seared on a griddle was truly amazing… this meat could convert a vegetarian!

Goodie bags were presented to us on leaving, so thank you: Dima Sharif for her special bottle of Olive Oil from her family olive groves, the marinated eggplants, jar of fish spice rub (all put to good use), chocolate truffles and recipe booklet! Lindt Chocolate for the boxes of luxury chocolates! Aqua Panna and San Pellegrino water and cute bottle opener! Lime and Tonic Gift Voucher! Toffee Princess for her delicious Scottish tablet!

Sally and Meeta… I thoroughly enjoyed The Food Photography and Styling Workshop and meeting and working with all the lovely group of other participants! You have left me inspired to better my photography skills and take my food photography to another level! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Other blog posts and photographs from the Food and Photography Styling Workshop, not everyone has a blog so I will link up were possible and add others as they become available:

Meeta from What’s for Lunch Honey (conducted above workshop) | Sally from My Custard Pie  also here (the host of above workshop)  | Shy form Cooking with Shy – Facebook Page photographs | Catherine from Cat in The Dunnes | Antone flicker photographs | Minna from Naked Plate


Food Photography and Styling Workshop

No matter what stage you are at in life or how much you think you may know… learning never stops! Wanting to improve my food photography skills, I recently had the opportunity to take a Food Photography and Styling Workshop in Dubai! The workshop was hosted by Sally Prosser from My Custard Pie and conducted by Professional Food Stylist and Photographer Meeta K. Wolff. With the days program in hand I knew we were in for some theory and practical sessions, plus a visit to Atlantis Hotel on The Palm… but what I didn’t know was the sheer amount of wonderful fresh and mouth-watering delicious food we would have over the two-day workshop!

Once all the introductions were made from the group (lovely bunch), we had a delicious Scandinavian themed breakfast/brunch laid out for us. A wonderful choice of smoked salmon, open-faced sandwiches, cold-cut meats, cheese, fruit and more, all prepared by Chef Russell from Lafayette Gourmet, so beautifully presented!  Naturally we all wanted to take some photographs before eating! This was a good opportunity for taking some photographs without my tripod as I rely heavily on it when taking food photographs for my blog! The beautiful Miele Gallery showroom/cooking and test kitchen had lots of natural light streaming in through the floor to ceiling windows, a perfect setting for food photography! Not very technically minded I was so glad that one of the participants Catherine showed me how to make a collage of photographs, otherwise I hate to think how long this post might have been! Thanks Catherine 🙂

Of course it was not all about eating and moving us on… Meeta ran us through very important elements of camera settings that can make a huge difference to the overall look of food photography, as well as sound advice on getting to know the capabilities of your camera! Theory and practical exercises saw us through until late afternoon… then it was off to the Atlantis, The Palm to visit some of their restaurants… with a surprise in store for us!

Meeting the charming Giorgio Locatelli himself at the Ronda Locatelli was a wonderful surprise, paired with a tasting of the first of the seasons white truffle menu! Giorgio sat with us, sharing some of his passion for sustainable food and memories from his childhood truffle buying trips! The wonderful heady aroma of the white truffle with its exquisite taste and the simple dishes (softly scramble eggs, cheese pizza and risotto, all with shavings of truffle) prepared for us to sample… definitely was a memorable foodies moment!

At the Asia Republic restaurant we sampled an array of delicious food from their menu, Pad Thai, Laska, Duck, Char Siew Bao and Gyzoa were some of what we tasted!  Afterwards a little fresh air and some respite from eating was definitely needed, so we spent some time in the Nobu garden!

Lastly the day concluded with dinner at the Saffron Restaurant with some relaxed conversation and more delicious food! Something sweet after all the wonderful savoury food was definitely needed!

Theory, practical exercises, taking lots photographs, eating and sampling a wide array of food… I fell into bed, exhausted and full… but very much looking forward to the second day of the workshop… another blog post!

Some other posts and photographs from the Food and Styling Workshop participants, not everyone has a blog so I will link-up where possible and include other posts when available!

Meeta K. Wolff from What’s for Lunch Honey (Photographer and Food Stylist conducting the workshop)

Minna from Naked Plate

Shy from Cooking with Shy

Catherine from Cat In The Dunes

Antone Photography on flicker