This smooth, frothy drink is made with whole milk that's thickened with starch, sweetened with sugar, and flavored with rosewater or orange blossom water, cinnamon and, sometimes, a dusting of ground pistachios. It's sold by street vendors all over Istanbul, but now you can make it at home.
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I first encountered salep shortly after stepping off the plane in Istanbul, when I emerged from the metro into the touristy area surrounding the Blue Mosque. It was unusually cold outside—snowing, even—when I visited, so when I noticed a street vendor ladling a steaming, unfamiliar-looking beverage into cups for fellow tourists, I promptly joined the line. Not quite knowing what I was purchasing, I nevertheless felt sure I was in for something good, as my nose detected notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and something I couldn't recognize. With my first sip, I was hooked: the drink was sweet, creamy, and complex-tasting, and for the remainder of my trip, I treated myself to a hot cup each night.