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Winter Drinks in Saudi Regions

I promise you, by the end of the article you will get to know at least one new winter drink of our region (if you live in the middle east don’t cheat please hehe). Let me first brief you about our whether in winter, it is not crazy cold! but the issue is, it gets very dry; and dry winter gets directly to your bones with no permission. As a result, you feel fatigued and powerless all day long until you hit your body with a cup of warm drink that energizes you.

Sahlab – Orchid Drink:

To be accurate, this drink is a traditional winter beverage that was discovered in the 14th Century during the Ottoman Empire. Extremely popular in the Western Region of Saudi. Salep powder is produced from the bulbs of some species of orchid family “reason behind the name”. If you fail to find Sahlab powder you can prepare it from: Milk powder, Sugar powder, Rice powder, Corn starch, and vanilla; in additional to the water and the toppings.

It is a white, thick – smoothie like- hot drink. You will perceive many milky creamy notes along with ricy hints and starchy chalky mouth-coat. Now what makes it so unique, is your choice of “Toppings”! Cinnamon powder is a must topping, you can add with it any of the following: Coconut, Nuts (Walnut, Almond, Pistachio) with these you will create a mixture of different textures. You can put all of these toppings together to get the warming effect.

Karak Chai:

This tea is simply “ridiculously if i may say” Black tea with evaporated milk infused with major warm spices! yes that’s it! some prefer one spice only, personally i like them all in one cup – they blend so well-. Main spices: Cardamom and Saffron, I add little sprinkle of clove powder; some add Cinnamon and Ginger – i don’t like them with this tea-.

You will taste intense tea flavor (you can increase/decrease it), the evaporated milk gives you creaminess and cooked milk notes, and the spices with the tea and milk gives you a premium indulging sensation. The texture is not thin as thin as tea, slightly thicker and heavier on the tongue. Unfortunately, I highly recommend that you add sugar to this drink! sweetness adds a lot to it’s flavor. Originally, Karak tea is called “Masala tea” in South Asian countries, and Chai Adani in Yemen. in the Gulf we call it Karak. the differences between them are: 1- the milk being used, 2- the spices added.

Ginger:

In winter, Ginger is the King! all fridges in Saudi must contain Ginger. We prepare it in too many ways, with/without milk, with or without other spices and flavor enhancers. You must know that we prefer the fresh ginger for drinks “ginger powder mostly used in cooking”.

Ginger tea might contain: grated ginger, lemon and saffron. Or: grated ginger and cinnamon. Could be grated ginger and fresh mint leaves. Honey can be used as sweetener. i recommend these if you are a fan of spicy and sour combinations. Warning: these drinks give you burning warmth not a normal one at all! Personally, i don’t recommend sugar with these drinks.

If you are a fan of creamy spicy blends, try Ginger milk. Heat your milk first -very important- then add grated or powder ginger, don’t heat much afterwards (it may ferment and gives you off flavor notes). You can control the flavor intensity of the ginger by adding more or less. It is tasty when it is sweetened.

Do you have similar drinks in your region? tell us about it.

Have you tried any of these drinks?

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Bo’khoor البخور


Have you ever came across people that are holding an object that produces a thick smoke -probably smells wired to you- and they are literally trying to saturate themselves with that smoke? If you seen this before, congratulations! you have been in Gulf for too long; just kidding. But really, ever wondered what is that?

Bo’khoor is a fragrant aromatic wood, that is highly used in the gulf in many occasions. As it can be seen in the picture, Bo’khoor is basically tree stems of certain special trees. Those stems then go through natural and artificial processes to gain particular qualities qualifies them to be used as Aromatic substance/agent.

These trees grow mainly in East Asia in many countries like: Indonesia, Malaysia, South China, and India. The appropriate tree for Bo’khoor must be 20-30 years old years old tree-sometimes older-. Believe it or not! these stems develop their fragrant properties as a result of fungal attack, which transforms the white wood color to darker shade of brown (color is an indicator of Bo’khoor quality grade).

Ok! am not gonna bore you with the processing details. Let’s jump to the sensorial characters, shall we!

You already know this thing comes from wood, you are expecting the woody aromas, right? those notes are there, but that’s not all. First you need charcoal or a special instrument so stems start producing the aromatic smoke.

This Blue-ish white cloudy smoke will contain mainly the following aroma notes in different concentrations:
Agarwood (patchouli like aroma), woody, Sandalwood, some burnt notes, cinnamon hints.

As many ladies use it to fragrance their hair, clothes, and personal belongings; they like to personalize the aroma as well by adding some oils like: Amber, Musk, jasmine -floral scents; or add some spices or powders like: Saffron, sage, and Arabic Gum. It is used also to spread scent to the room, hall, or furniture. In Western region they even use it to perfume cups to serve water and juice for special guests.

It might smell weird and intense for you at first, but once you mingle in any gulf culture, you will smell it’s hints everywhere. As it holds very sentimental value to the region. It reminds us of our holey occasions, weddings, spiritual gatherings, grandmah’s house! and because it used to be (and some kinds still are) expensive, you will only smell it in the very important events.


Would like to highlight one last fact before closing, Bo’khoor is totally different from Incense. might be same in concept, but source and aroma are nothing alike.

So tell us, have you came across Bo’khoor before? How was your experience?

Hope you liked the article!

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