Asure – Noah’s Pudding

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We’re in the month of Muharram according to the Islamic calendar. The first month of the Hijri lunar calendar. There is a strong and very common tradition regarding this month in Anatolia, Balkans and most other parts of the Middle East and Central Asia. Noah’s pudding is made in most homes and distributed to neighbors hoping that it will bring that household a bountiful year in return.

We believe that Prophet Noah and his people when they embarked on their voyage of salvation on the infamous ark, made this pudding from whatever they have left in stock onboard, fruits, grains, nuts and spices. The essential rule of making asure (pronounced ush-oo-rah) is that it should be made using at least seven ingredients and should be given out to seven different neighbors. There are other tips and tricks like boiling all the ingredients separately and soaking the legumes and other grains ahead of time, but this is it, basically, get seven ingredients: sugar, wheat, chickpeas, water (I don’t know if that counts as one), cinnamon, walnuts and dried figs. Make your pudding and hand it out to your neighbors hoping they won’t think that you’re some kind of psycho trying to poison them with that weird-looking blobby thing. My dear readers, try the recipe below or use it as a general guide, feel free to get creative and make up your own, as Noah’s pudding tradition -metaphorically- points out to diversity as a source of blessing. Let me know of any ideas that you come up with!

Ingredients: 10-12 servings (150ml each)

1 cup of wheat grains, soaked overnight and then boiled al-dente

1/2 cup of dry navy/lima beans, soaked overnight and then boiled al-dente

1/4 cup of corn kernels, (soak and boil if not canned)

1/2 cup of chickpeas, soaked overnight and then boiled al-dente

1/4 cup of rice, washed and drained

100g of dried figs, small variety, soaked and boiled until soft

50g of dried apple slices, soaked and boiled

100g of dried sultanas,

50g of black currants,

Zest of 1 lemon/orange,

1 tablespoon of lemon/orange juice,

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3 sticks of cinnamon,

8 clove buds,

1/2 teaspoon of allspice powder,

A dash of powdered cardamom seeds,

1/4 teaspoon of ginger powder,

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg,

1 star anise,

A dash of powdered coriander seeds,

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2 tablespoons of rose water- edible type,

1,5 cups of sugar,

A dash of salt,

2 tablespoons of wheat starch, mixed with 1/2 cup of cold water

2,5 liters of boiling water (add more if need be)

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50g almond slices,

100g chopped walnuts/pecans

40g pine nut kernels,

100g of pomegranate seeds,

50g shredded coconut,

1 tablespoon of poppy seed,

What takes time is preparing all the ingredients, like soaking, washing, chopping and boiling… The rest is easy breezy. Add all the ingredients into a deep pot except for the nuts, pomegranate seeds, poppy seeds and shredded coconut. Save those for decoration purposes. Cook on medium heat stirring until rice cooks well, the mixture thickens and becomes glossy. Laddle into pudding bowls. When it cools off, top up and decorate with nuts, pomegranate seeds, coconut and poppy seed. Serve cold. Remember: Sharing and diversity is the key to a perfect asure.

Lor Tatlisi – Creamy Cottage Cheese With Sour Cherry Jam

Lor tatlisi is an unforgettable Cunda treat… 2 weeks ago, my husband and I had a short vacation to the northern Aegean coastal town of Ayvalik, more specifically an island called Cunda. We stayed in an old Anatolian-Greek house, now turned into a hotel with only 7 rooms. Hotel’s decoration had an antique touch to it and the house itself was built from a local stone called sarimsak tasi. It had a very high ceiling, wooden floors, gorgeous wooden windows, vintage heaters with flower patterns and antique furniture.

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Kabak Tatlisi – Candied Pumpkin

Fall is over already and yet, I am not over with pumpkins and chestnuts. I even invested in a handful of pumpkin seeds which I’ll be planting this summer and hopefully enjoying my mini-pumpkins end of next year, here is a picture of what I am hoping to achieve:

For now, I’ll have to suffice with squares of candied winter squash, Turkish style of course. Some recipes from the southern part of Turkey also call for soaking the pumpkin slices into edible lime before cooking, so that the dessert turns translucent and attains a crunchy feel when cooked. This recipe here is the wider used version. (more…)

Visne Pelteli Irmikli Muhallebi – Semolina Pudding With Sour Cherry Jelly

I made this one up, but both semolina pudding and sour cherry starch pudding are traditional Turkish recipes. Ottomans began using fish-gelatin in the 19th century (remember the surprise book my hubs gave me?), before that, they used fruit pectin (quince seeds in particular) and starch in dessert recipes as thickeners, to achieve that jelly-like texture.

It’s quite easy to make this naturally colorful sweet and sour dessert. For the base, I used digestive biscuits, simply lined them up to the base of the tray. For the white pudding layer, you can find the semolina pudding recipe here.

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