Sunday 15 February, 2015 by Uncle Spike
You may have heard of this dish, Ashure (as it’s spelt in English) as it’s famed in cultures and religions beyond the borders of Türkiye. It has associations with the landing of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat here in Türkiye, so you may already know it as Noah’s Pudding – the story goes that they made a dish from all the left over foods after they landed.
For us, it’s made on the 10th day of the first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram, or the Day of Ashure to honour the Prophet Moses following the freeing of the Israelites from Egypt. It is also highly significant to Shia Muslims too, commemorating the martyrdom of Mohammed’s grandson at the Battle of Karbala.
Written as Aşure in Turkish (pronounced “ah-shu-reh”); it’s a sweet dessert made in large quantities and then given to friends, relatives, neighbours, work colleagues etc, as a token of peace and love.
Recipes vary by region and even by family, with some being very sugary and runny, and others almost solid. Anyway, here’s a glimpse of ours from last November (3rd) – apologies for not getting around to posting it until now 🙂
Of course, as the Islamic calendar is lunar-based, the dates change by ten days each year, as do all our significant dates, such as the various Eid festivals and the dates of the month long fast of Ramadan. Therefore, the next Aşure will be on 23rd October 2015. There ya go, learn something new every day, eh?
Ingredients are based on fruits and legume-type products. These are the three base ingredients, white beans, barley, and chickpeas.
First of all, wash four glasses (1kg or 35 oz) of barley until the water is clear.
Then boil it for five minutes. Then turn the heat off (do not drain), place the lid on top and let it soak overnight.
Two glasses (500g or 18 oz) of the beans and chickpeas are also soaked overnight in cold water – same as you would do when preparing them for any other dish.
The next day, they should have expanded to double the original size…
They are then boiled on a simmering heat for about 30-40 minutes, until softened, then drained.
The barley should have expanded overnight, having soaked up all the water. Then add enough cold water to cover the barley and reboil until soft.
Add hot water if needed to ensure the barley does not run dry.
The other ingredients are then prepared. They can include dried fruit such as 20 apricots, a handful of raisins, sultanas, and currents, as well as a couple of cut up fresh oranges and apples. We also like to use pine nuts and crushed fresh walnuts and/or boiled chestnuts, and even 15 or so dried figs. Oh, and a dash of vanilla extract.
You can soak the sultanas and currants for 10 minutes to pre-soften them.
Transfer the barley to a nice big large pot, add the chickpeas and beans and continue boiling them for 15 minutes.
Add the sultanas, currants and the zest of a couple of oranges to the pot. Give it a good stir, and then add four (1kg or 35oz) or even five (1.2kg or 42oz) glasses of sugar, and then boil for a further five minutes. We tend to use just three glasses of sugar (700g or 24oz), as we don’t like very sweet desserts on the whole.
Add the remaining ingredients and continue to boil for another five minutes. As it thickens, you can add a little more water can be added if you don’t want the end result to be too glutinous. Also add a pinch of salt.
By the way, if using walnuts and/or dried figs, only add them at the last minute, else the pudding may become rather dark in colour – but still tastes the same.
Before it cools off too much, the finished product is dished up into bowls of various sizes, depending on who it’s intended for. The top is also adorned with fresh pomegranate seeds, if in season.
These are just a few of the many bowls we made in two sessions in November. We tend to make loads as I also love them as a working day snack, as they are so full of energy and goodness, and they keep for a week to ten days in the fridge.