Pumpkin-Sahlep Pudding Dessert

Pumpkin - Sahlep Pudding

Pumpkin-Sahlep Pudding is a scrumptious, no-bake, and eggless dessert that is laden with fall flavors with a Middle Eastern twist.  

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What is Pumpkin-Sahlep Pudding?

Pumpkin-Sahlep Pudding is a a two layer dessert. The first layer is made of cooked pumpkin seasoned with pumpkin spices, and sweetened with brown sugar.

Cooked down in its own juices, the pumpkin chunks might need a splash of water to stay saucy and not dry out of liquid.

The second layer is a sahlep layer that is made of just two ingredients: milk and sahlab (aka salep or sahlap) instant powder. Keep reading to learn more about sahlep.

What is Sahlab, Salep, or Sahlap?

Sahlab, salep, or sahlap is a natural flour -or powder- extracted from orchids. When mixed with milk over low heat, it thickens into a delicious drink with an exotic note.

Sahlep is a powder extracted from some breeds of orchids that grow in Syria and Turkey
Sahlep is a powder extracted from some breeds of orchids that grow in Turkey and Syria.

In Egypt, sahlep is served as a winter hot beverage in street cafes (makahi) during cold winter days. It is poured in a tea cup and garnished with a flutter of cinnamon and toasted nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, and/or pistachios.

In the levant (Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria), the word sahlep refers mostly to a pudding. If you increase the ratio of sahlap to milk, you end up with a pudding that you can enjoy cold.

Sahlap powder itself has an exotic and distinct flavor that pairs so well with rose water and orange blossom, and cinnamon too.

Whether it is served as a hot drink or a cold dessert, sahlep is usually garnished with toasted nuts and a flutter of cinnamon.

Given the war in Syria and the political unrest in the levant, pure sahlap is becoming a rarety. Most of the sahlep available in the market is mixed with aromatics and thickening agents such as starch and agar agar.

Some have a heavy presence of cinnamon that I find too overpowering. Yet, some brands have managed to present a better quality of sahlep with the right balance of aromatic.

Objectively speaking, I personally prefer Ziyad as it is spiked with subtle vanilla and rose water notes.

Sahlep-Pumpkin Pudding’s Success Secrets 

  • Use frozen pumpkin or squash chunks

Pre-chopped and frozen pumpkin will spare you the time and energy of peeling and chopping a bulky pumpkin. There are excellent frozen qualities in the market. I used Simply Nature for this recipe. It is organic and GMO free.

  • Use whole milk or non dairy milk 

This pumpkin-pudding dessert is best made with whole milk. For a non dairy version, feel free to use non dairy milk such as coconut, cashew , or almond milk

  • Use a good quality of sahlep

The authentic pure sahlep is rare to find, given the unrest and wars that took place in its countries of origin.

You can find a variety on Amazon or Middle Eastern grocery stores.  Mind you that the available sahlep in the market have corn starch and cinnamon mixed in.

I have tried a variety of available sahlep and objectively speaking, Ziyad is by far the best. It is not pure sahlep though, it is mixed with a thickening agent, yet it has subtle aromatics mixed in that are just right and not overpowering.

  • Turn it into a vegan dessert 

To create a scrumptious vegan version, swap in non dairy milk for regular milk and coconut oil for ghee.

Step By Step Video

Watch the step-by-step video of Pumpkin-Sahlep Pudding here.

What is the story behind Pumpkin-Sahlep Pudding?  

I created this recipe for an Instagram series called “Beat the Inflation”.

In this series of “Beat the Inflation”, I am doubling down on ingredients that I already have in my pantry, fridge, and freezer, so I can food declutter and reduce waste in my kitchen.

Inspired by an iconic Egyptian pumpkin dessert called Ara’a Asali, I created this recipe, swapping sahlep instant pudding for a sweet béchamel sauce. 

Health Benefits 

Pumpkin is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that boost our immune system, protects our eyesight, lowers the risk of certain cancers, and improves heart and skin health.

Milk is rich in calcium and vitamins. I highly recommend organic milk that is hormone free.

How to Serve Pumpkin-Sahlep Pudding?

Serve this Pumpkin-Sahlep Pudding warm or cold. It makes a delicious breakfast or a scrumptious dessert.

Check Out More Pumpkin & Fall Desserts:  

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Disclaimer:Chez Nermine blog is an Amazon Associate. We earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Our commission doesn’t affect the  price of the product you purchase.

Pumpkin- Sahlep Pudding Dessert

Serves 4 people


For the Sahlep Layer

To Garnish (optional)

  • Spoonful desiccated
  • Flutter of ground cinnamon
  • Toasted & chopped nuts (pistachios, walnut, hazelnut, or almonds)


  1. Cook the pumpkin: To a hot pan,  add the butter and let it brown a bit for a depth of flavor, add the pumpkin, the sugar, the spices and mix everything well with a wooden spoon. Add a 1/4 cup of water, cover and let the pumpkin simmer down. Don’t let the pumpkin dry during cooking time, add another 1/4 cup of water so the pumpkin remains saucy. When the pumpkin is soft enough to squish it with a fork, turn off the heat and let it cool off.
  2. Prepare the Sahlep Pudding: Add the milk to a saucepan, and the sahlep powder then whisk well until the sahlep is well incorporated into the milk. Put the saucepan on low heat and keep whisking until the sahlep thickens and a smooth silky pudding comes together.
  3. Assemble the dessert: In a serving dish, or small individual ramequin, scoop first the pumpkin layer, level it with the back of a spoon. Add some nuts on top and raisins if you will and then add the sahlep pudding layer. 
  4. Garnish & Serve: Sprinkle some nuts on top of the dessert. Serve it warm or keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours, or over night, and serve it cold.



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Former diplomat | Travel & Food Writer | Stauch advocate of Culinary Diplomacy. Find more here: https://cheznermine.com/about/

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