One amazing and typically Turkish product, which I am actually using against its purpose, is tarhana.
I recall I spent some time at the market shelf analysing the ingredients and was surprised it had no wheat – at that time it was something I was looking for. I bought it although I didn’t actually know what it was for. It sounded interesting, though.
In the absence of bułka tarta (bread crumbs) I used it as breading for chops. If you are not Polish you don’t know that the most common dinner dish for the Polish is schabowy (a pork chop) which involves a piece of pork meat in egg and bread crumbs.
Obviously, it was my first idea for a dinner: a pork chop with potatoes. Only, I didn’t have the pork and I didn’t have the bread crumbs.
So I resorted to chicken and trahana which produced a totally new dish which we have been eating since.
It is very interesting how tarhana is made. And unfortunately I don’t think I will ever be able to prepare it myself.
In a nutshell, it is a dried substance resembling bread crumbs but the process of making it is more complex. It is also much healthier and richer in proteins.
Turkish women prepare it from various products: grain, flour, yoghurt, herbs, salt, sometimes vegetables and yeast. The recipe vary from woman to woman.
In the months when the humidity is the lowest, Turkish women prepare a mixture of these ingredients to produce dough. The dough is left to grow and later to ferment. Once the dough has fermented for the right period, around 7 – 10 days, it is formed into cakes and dried.
The cakes can also be frozen.
Once dried the tarhana cakes are ground and sieved ending up in thick powder which can be stored for months. It is a natural instant soup.
The tarhana powder has a sour taste. Thanks to the fermentation and drying processes the milk proteins are preserved making it a valuable dietary product.
Tarhana can be turned into soup relatively easily. What you need to do is to mix the powder with some stock, add tomato paste, additional spices if necessary and enjoy. There are plenty of recipes on the net so I encourage you to look one up, e.g. this one.