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Traditional Lebanese coconut-chai sahlab

This hot creamy sahlab dates all the way back to the Ottoman Empire, but it’s still renowned today for its flavour and celebrating iftar here in South Africa.


1 L milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 chai teabags
3 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup toasted coconut flakes
2 tbsp walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Add the milk, sugar and tea bags to a pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover and infuse for 5 minutes. Remove the bags.
2. Mix 3 tablespoons of the milk mixture into the cornflour mixture, then whisk this back into the milk in the pot.
3. Place over low-medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture comes to a simmer and has thickened slightly.
4. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla and pour into mugs.
5. Top with cinnamon, coconut flakes and walnuts, and serve hot.

Recipe & styling: Kate Turner
Photography: Sean Dollery //

This sahlab is definitely perfect for a pre-bedtime treat, but if you’re looking for something to replace your morning cuppa our traditional masala chai will do the trick.

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