Tony is all about food. His ongoing food events and special projects have been featured in the press. To learn more, you can view his gallery, read his blog, or simply contact him directly.

Blog Archive Entry


Celebrating a year of Olive Juice, with a drink

أهدي هذا إلى جميع أفراد عائلتي في حلب، وأقدم شكري للجميع، خاصة خالتي كيكي، لحسن استقبالها لي أثناء زيارتي إلى حلب. ولم تغب صورة الأهل عن فكري بكل رشفة أشربها. حيث أتخيل حلب وأهلها الأحباء في ذهني، والتي لن تغيب أبد الدهر

I would like to dedicate this post to all my family in Aleppo, Syria, and extend my thanks to everyone, especially my Aunt Christine for her kind hospitality during my visit to Aleppo. With each sip of this drink I remember them in my memories, which will last forever.

My blog turned one this past Tuesday. I didn’t even think I’d last this long, but sure enough, I love to eat and a few snaps from the camera never hurt anyone (except when someone, ahem ahem, tries to eat the food before it’s been thoroughly photographed). All is well now; I’ve gotten a lot better at quickly taking the shots I need and clearing the food for consumption.  

Today I want to share a recipe that has been sitting in my back burner for a whopping 9 months now. It’s for a traditional Middle Eastern drink called شراب اللوز (“sharab al loz” in English) that is made from just almonds, milk and sugar. I had it for the first time when I visited Aleppo last winter and there is no better way to put it other than, I was hooked. Nothing complicated, but in my opinion, it was the essence of unadulterated almond perfection.

start with good almonds
almonds

Don’t think it was easy though, I worked for this recipe, very, very hard. As soon as I showed even the slightest interest in knowing how this drink was made, it was as though the whole country simultaneously suffered varying degrees of memory loss. No one was ready to divulge their secrets, but I wasn’t about to give up just yet.

I had no shame; I employed the help of my cousins and we went store to store asking around for the recipe. After a while we lost track of whom we had already asked and ended up asking some people multiple times – they weren’t too happy about this. Eventually we found a kind old man who sold buttons and fabrics, and with my broken Arabic I initiated a conversation with him. I think he felt sorry for me more than anything else and gave me a very basic idea of how the drink is made. I, of course, thanked him for all his help and my cousins were simply relieved they weren’t on recipe duty anymore.

mise en place
mise en place

As soon as I got back to school, this was one of the stories I shared with the dean from Cornell that funded my dream research project. She thought it was odd that I had such a fascination with something that already existed in the States and was readily available at all major supermarkets. She prefaced the comment with her opinion that the almond milk found in the organic section of the grocery store doesn’t taste well, but being the curious foodie that I am, I gave it a try. Not only was she right, but “doesn’t taste well” was a complete and utter understatement. The almond milk I had from the store tasted like someone had soaked cardboard in water for months, processed it and finished it off with a couple drops of the foulest-tasting almond extract known to man. My description may also be an understatement, but I hope it gets the message across.

make sure there’s some left for snacking
almonds for snacking

You can safely put away the cardboard for this recipe; we’re using nothing but real almonds here. Besides being ridiculously good for you, almonds also have the added benefits of being delicious. These are the best sorts of foods in my opinion – guiltless and tasty. 

a quick blanch in hot water makes them easy to peel
peeled almonds

After soaking and blanching the almonds, the peels slip right off. I actually found it therapeutic, which is why I decided to add this picture. Does anyone else find other cooking processes therapeutic or is it just me? Anyway, I digress. Once you get the peels off, process everything in the blender until you get a smooth consistency (depending on the power of your blender, this may take 5-10 minutes).

sharab al-loz (شراب اللوز)
sharab el loz

Once the mixture comes out of the blender it will be slightly thick as this is technically the base for the beverage. Keep this base in the fridge and whenever you want a glass of this frothy, almond drink all you have to do is blend it with some ice, a little more milk and saha w hana (bon appétit in Arabic).

Sharab Al Loz

serves approx. 6-8 people

Components

  • 1/4 kg almonds
  • 1/4 kg sugar
  • 1/2 kg water
  • milk, for service
  • ice, for service

Putting them all together

  1. Soak the almonds in water overnight.
  2. Boil the almonds for 10-15 minutes and peel immediately.
  3. While the almonds are boiling, make a simple syrup by mixing the sugar and water in a saucepan and simmering until all the sugar is melted.
  4. Blend the peeled almonds with the hot simple syrup. Warning: be sure to vent your lid and pulse so that the hot syrup does not explode when you turn on the blender.
  5. Blend the almond mixture for 7-10 minutes in a strong blender.
  6. Strain the mix with a cheese cloth or a fine sieve and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Once the sharab (the base) is cooled, you can prepare the beverage by mixing 1 part sharab, to 1 part milk and a little ice. You can add more milk and ice to thin out the consistency to your liking.

notes: If you’re lactose intolerant you can try replacing the milk for some soy milk. Also, if you want to reduce the amount of sugar, honey is a great alternative.  

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Posted in desserts, drinks, Middle Eastern, recipe by Antonio Tahhan on September 21st, 2008. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


28 Responses to “Celebrating a year of Olive Juice, with a drink”

Vanille @ Down Under Says:

This drink sounds perfect for the coming summer down here ! I like the first picture ! ;-)

Noelle Says:

Congratulations on your first anniversary!
I recently stumbled across your blog, and I have to say it has become a little treasure on the web!
Very inspiring pictures. You really have talent!
Keep up the good work (you’ll have a reader in me!!)

Núria Says:

Congratulations on your blogiversary!!!!! Espero que cumplas muchos más :D . Aaaahhh a wonderful beverage Antonio! I love almonds and always have some in my pantry: toasted and natural. I will try your drink for sure :D Looks easy, refreshing and healthy!

PG Says:

what a great recipe. I agree with you totally about almonds. It is the healthiest nut one can get on earth. Thank you for sharing the info and the lovely recipe. Will surely try it out.
Guess you’ne heard it often enough, but your pictures are great, the blog too. :)

Joan Nova Says:

I subscribed to your feed a couple of weeks ago when I found a link on the Spanish Recipes blog because I was immediately hooked by your photography — so congratulations on your anniversary and don’t worry about how long it takes you to capture those perfect photos!!

Lilandra Says:

hmmm
maybe this is why my mom keeps going on about how she can make almond milk for us
(and her unnatural obsession with almonds)
maybe i’ll stop buying the pack milk and just get her to make it…

thanks! :)

(or i could follow your instructions…except…milk *sigh*)

Adam Says:

Big congrats on the one year, Big Tony. I’m happy you’re sticking with it, because dude, your ideas and pictures are awesome. You have a real knack for plating and whatnot.

So, I’m guessing your milk turned out better than the soaked cardboard, right? Of course it did. That wouldn’t be therapeutic then, it would be cardboard-apeutic.

Karen Says:

Happy Anniversary, Tony!

It is very difficult to refrain from eating the food before the photo shoot, due mostly to its extreme deliciousness.

Nate Says:

Happy bloggerversary! You’re doing quite well for a 1 year-old blog.

We Chinese have an almond milk drink – it already comes in powdered form. Hot or cold, I like it. Although I wonder if fresh made would taste even better.

Peter Says:

Happy Anniversary Tony and let’s celebrate by adding some rum to this drink and wearing the lamp shades!

Hélène Says:

Happy Anniversary and we want you to stay in the food blogosphere for many, many years. It must be nice to still have those memories.

krysta Says:

happy anniversary! the pictures are stunning as usual.

and yes, it was pink himalayan salt… and it was excellent with the biscotti!

Lydia H. Says:

I always love pictures of nut milks, they look so wholesome and pure. I have never attempted making any milks. I have tried making a fresh barley tea that didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned. I should try this.

Mee Says:

hey cutie! happy anniversary! you are a breath of fresh air Tony and I love what you do here. Do you know we have a friend here who is also from Aleppo. Last time he was there he brought back lovely mini baklavas, which were so delicious.
i remember back in Qatar one of my favorite juice and milk bars would serve this and it was the only type of milk i would drink back then.

Hannah Says:

Happy first blog birthday, and here’s hoping there are many more to come!

I love almond milk, but I’ve never taken the time to make it myself. This drink looks sort of like a short-cut almond milk, so maybe I’ll try it out with soymilk!

laura Says:

Love the photo, can’t wait to try REAL almond milk…I found the carton-y stuff suitable only for smoothies.

Metrically challenged as I am, however, I would love to see other measurements for the ingredients, even if they are as innocuous as “a handful of almonds” or whatever.

Congrats on your anniversary!

silverkeys Says:

Mmmm…almond milk! We drink it in Chinese culture, too – it’s good for bad coughs, and it’s really yummy as a hot drink when you get it fresh from a boba (bubble tea) cafe.

Happy blogaversary!

Kate Says:

Hurray !! Congrats to your 1st year :) its been a pleasure visiting your wonderful blog, and reading all your wonderful recipes n stories. And thanks to you blog, i think i found a very good friend :P … looking forward to many many many more from you.
Is’nt this called hallab , they sell ready powered packets of these in the lebanese store. Well i’m so sure this is way better. Hahaha … by the way just 2 mins ago i was slicing a cup of almonds for my next post … n i see more almonds here :)

Antonio Tahhan Says:

Vanille: Oh, you’re so lucky to have summer coming up down there!! This drink is great for when the sun is at its worst : )

Noelle: Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!! I’m glad you enjoy the site. It’s always inspiring to hear from the readers : )

Núria: Gracias, gracias!! It’s super easy and I’m actually making a second batch right now… (I’m in the soaking stage – I can’t wait till tomorrow!)

PG: Thanks for the compliments! I seriously eat (at least) a handful of almonds a day, usually in my cereal in the morning. They’re my favorite! I hope you enjoy the beverage as much as I did!

Joan: Thanks for subscribing Joan! I’m happy that you like my pictures… I love playing around with my camera.

Lilandra: hehe, I like your mom already!! The process itself may take a while, but besides peeling the almonds, nothing else requires your attention. In my opinion – definitely worth it :)

Adam: Thanks!! It’s amazing how time flies!! I’m so glad the recipe turned out well… Otherwise, I think my cousins would have been upset with me for dragging them vendor-to-vendor looking for the recipe :)

Thanks, Karen!! I miss our Cornell days – come visit soon!

Nate: Thanks for the comment! This is one of the things I LOVE most about blogging, is learning about how different foods relate across cultures. I’m excited to read more about this Chinese variation.

Peter: Your comments always make my day!! I’ve got the rum… I hope you’ve got some pretty sweet lamp shades :)

Hélène: Thanks for the sweet wishes! Those are memories that I will cherish for a while. I had an amazing time visiting that part of the world.

Krysta: Thanks for stopping by! I’m sending my host mom an e-mail about the himalayan salt on the biscotti… I’m sure it’ll make her day :)

Lydia: I’m sorry to hear about your barley tea… I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know how it turns out :)

Meeta… or shall I say Mee, hehe :P Thanks for the sweet wishes! OH MY GOD, the mini baklavas and all the pistachio desserts are one of the things I miss the most about Aleppo (beside the fam, of course). By the end of my stay I was on a first name basis with the sweets seller! I always ask about him when I talk to my cousins (they laugh).
what do you say, we randezvous in Aleppo and hoard back lots of those delicious sweets : ) Your friend could be our accomplice, haha!

Thanks, Hannah! Definitely try it out with the soy milk. I hope you enjoy it!

Laura: Oh, I didn’t think of smoothies when I bought mine. I wish I had… I felt bad throwing it out, but it was nearly impossible for me to drink it straight.
I’m sorry I didn’t add the non-metric measurements. I updated the recipe now and they should be up. I hope you enjoy the drink!

silverkeys: I was addicted to bubble tea while I was at Cornell! I just graduated and have been on the look out for a new bubble tea shop in the DC area. I’m interested in reading about the Chinese variation of this drink as another blogger mentioned that, too!

Kate, I’m glad I met you through your blog, too! I never realized how tightly knit the food blogging community is until I became a part of it! I’m excited to see what you whip up with sliced almonds (whatever it is, it already sounds delicious!)

pixen Says:

Very interesting drink and quite similar in my community. We added fine milled/grounded rice to the drink to thicken and also gingko nuts, lotus seeds, lily bulbs and occasionally, fried curlers a.k.a yew char koay (something like churros but not sweet). I love this drink very much because in Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s said that almonds help strengthen the lungs and overall general health.

Thank you for sharing all those recipes and photographs.

mikky Says:

wow… my hubby loves almond milk… this is so perfect… now i don’t have to rely on the powdered kind to serve him a cup of his favorite drink… thanks for sharing… btw, cheers to your first year of blogging… may you have many more to come… :)

Cecil Says:

Happy One Year Anniversary! I have almonds almost every day as my snacks and never thought of making it to such delicious drink! This is a must try.

I find chopping/cutting as therapeutic. :D

White On Rice Couple Says:

Happy belated Tony! It’s hard to believe that you’ve only been blogging for a year. Your blog is so beautiful and polished, you’re like a seasoned pro!

Deeba Says:

Oooh love this. There is a similar sort of drink that they make here in India known as Thandai…which basically means cooler! I find grating citrus fruits on the microplaner very therapeutic, as also making coffee decoctions & grinding coffee beans…aaaaaah nirvana!!

Payal Says:

Great Blog. Great pictures and recipes. I discovered it through Daring Bakers. Love the pictures and definitely can’t wait to try the Almond Milk…yummy!

Erinn Says:

Happy Birthday!
I come from a long line of Greek women who can take a few, simple ingredients, and turn them into something amazing! I can relate to this recipe.
This drink sounds simple and quite delicious.

Jil Nelson Says:

Tony Happy Blog Birthday! I love your entries. Truly inspiraational.

Thank you!

Jil

Sandy Johnson Says:

Delicious. Love the arabic style of food and drink. Its amazing. My Palestinian friends speak very highly of the Aleppo and Nablus food history. I was told by them that the red pepper dip i love so much (muhammara) originates from Aleppo in Syria.


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