Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Turkish summer drink - Ayran

Ah, vacation. Don't you just love it when you get to relax 24/7? You'll get to cook up dishes whenever you want -you have the time for it now!-, take pictures at any point in time and take forever to make them and you have all the time in the world to find out how to put conditionals in your html (although I don't think time can save me there) and then 'suddenly' you find yourself in a country of 35 degrees Celsius (a lot of Fahrenheit I tell you!) and your brain turns to pulp and your body into a sack of potatoes and you're stuck...

And I didn't know what to tell you about Ayran. Or about my vacation. Or life in general. So I did what any person struck by heat would do: do research on the history of the drink and spend hours and hours on end figuring out the difference between things in which there IS no difference and end up ranting a full page full. That's sanity for you right there.

Ayran is a Turkish national drink (like all over the place, super-famous sorts of national) - roughly the same as the Persian/Iranian 'Doogh', the Arabian 'Laban', the Armanian 'Tahn' and the Kurdish 'Mastaw'. And a distant cousin of drinks as the Indian Lassi, the Mongolian Kumis (fermented drink from horse milk), the Indian Majiga or Moru (spiced buttermilks) and Kefir (fermented milk drink much like buttermilk). The summer drink is basically a salted mix of yogurt and water. You'll find it in Turkey and the surrounding countries especially on hot summer days as it's very refreshing - I can tell you from experience! It's most often served during dinner, no, it's served at almost every meal and people will still drink it during the day as well. It beats the heat way better than water.



The difference between Ayran, Laban and Doogh is small. From what I've read, Doogh usually uses carbonated water.  Laban, Tahn, Mastaw and Ayran are the exact same thing although there might be slight differences in the yogurt-water ratio of each of the drinks. Doogh recipes sometimes call for special 'herbs for doogh' which seems to be a mix of dried mint, dried wild mint, dried rose petals, dried wild mountain celery, thyme and other herbs. To add to the confusion: there are other drinks that (can) refer to roughly the same thing as ayran: tahn, doogh, dugh, ariani, mastaw, lassi, do, dhalle, than, ayryan and laban.

Susurluk Ayran is a special type of Ayran unique to the town Susurluk in the northwestern province of Turkey. It is extra creamy and foamy compared to the 'normal' Ayran. Although the ingredients are mostly the same, Susurluk Ayran seems to use less salt and a mix of different milks (goat, cow and sheep). The technique is also different: whereas Ayran is usually beated to create the foam, Susurluk Ayran uses high speed pumps to create even more foam that will also last longer. You'll find this type of Ayran served with susurluk toast ('cheese panini').

Ayran
1 large glass * - inspired by Ayran and Cookyourdream

1/2 cup Turkish (or other thick) yoghurt
1/2 cup cold water
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
optional: ice cubes & mint

1. Add all ingredients together. Start with a little salt and adding more later according to taste.
2. Mix everything in a blender, with a whisk or hand blender until the top starts to foam.
3. Pour into glasses and serve!

* The ingredients are for 1,25-1,5 cup glasses. They add up to 1 cup, but when whisked until foamy will increase in size.


Somehow I feel this recipe calls for mint. Actually mint-flavoured Ayran is quite a common flavour of ayran in Turkey. To make it yourself, just dump a spoonfull of chopped mint leaves into the blender with the ayran, or a dash of dried mint. The same goes for Doogh and Laban: sometimes you will find a recipe without but you will barely find any other flavour. Very rarely will you find pepper, garlic or cucumber added, but then you are more likely to have come across a version of Cacik, which is a Turkish version of the Greek tsatsiki. And then sometimes you'll come across a recipe that uses lemon or a recipe that uses cucumber juice in stead of water. You know, to make things confusing...


Okay, so by now I've ranted a lot about how confusing Ayran is, how popular it is in Turkey and maybe you also picked up that it's a summer thing. But have I actually convinced you yet? I imagine drinking yogurt with water and salt needs convincing for some people. Here's why you definitely should be drinking Ayran this summer:
1) It's healthy.
2) It hydrates and energizes.
3) It's full of proteins (for energy) and salts (to raise blood pressure - which can drop in hot weather).
4) It helps digestion, as yogurt does, and can even prevent and relieve stomach aches and digestive problems.
5) It's refreshingly cool on hot days.
6) It really, and instantly, makes you feel better on these days.

Especially on hot days we may feel week, we need to drink more and we need more salt to make up for the loss when sweating: this drink has got all that. It's not only cooling and healthy, it's necessary to beat the heat. It helps against those pulp-brains and potato-bodies, you know?  

Now, have I convinced you?

6 comments:

  1. Not only does this look and sound delicious but the name of it is my initials! (A. Ryan) So naturally I'm drawn to it...excuse my slight egomania :-)

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    1. Oh that is so cool! I wish I had a drink (or something else) that used my initials! But I guess it'd have to come from a VERY strange country...

      I really hope you get to try Ayran some time! It's so hot here in Greece, I've been drinking it every single day to keep myself from falling apart!

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  2. I'm on vacation and I felt SO stuck on my post this week too! I do feel very educated after reading this post -- I wonder if I could use non-dairy yogurt?

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    1. Haha, I know the feeling! I'm still stuck to be honest- I swear it's the heat getting to my head...
      I don't see why you couldn't use any kind of yogurt actually. You won't get all the health benefits I think and it will taste different - but you'll get the water and salt so it should still be just as refreshing! ^^

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  3. Yum! I love fresh mint anything, and mixing it into this drink seems like the perfect summer beverage!

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    1. It is, it is!! I've had this drink so many times already this summer, I'm loving it! Hope you get to try it and like it too! ;)

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