The Slow Food Mahal convivium in Turkey celebrated an ancient Anatolian tradition on November 6, ritually preparing a centuries-old ritual dessert with some inspiring thoughts behind.
Perhaps one of the oldest desserts in the world, ashure is an original Anatolian dessert that’s made to be shared, with a legend stretching back to the story of Noah’s Ark – where ashure was the one and only meal mankind and the animal kingdom could share in order to survive. Symbolizing peace and harmony among all living creatures on the planet, it contains no animal products and is widely considered a non-violent dessert. A wide variety of ingredients can be used, such as wheat, figs, apricots, dry grapes, pomegranate seeds, peas and much more. Recipes may vary depending on regions and the available harvest in a given year.
The ashure ritual is a widely-held traditional practice in Anatolia, through which people are reminded of the meaning and value of bereket (which relates to fertility and the abundance provided by nature). In principle, you eat only very little of the ashure you prepare, and share most of it with your neighbours, friends and others. This act generates bereket and strengthens community bonds. Anatolians explain bereket as a divine richness and fertility gained miraculously in times of heavy scarcity, as ashure symbolizes. The richness of bereket can only be achieved by sharing, as opposed to material wealth, which is gained by hording. Thus, the ashure ritual has a strong social resonance for millions of people in Turkey.
Slow Food Mahal shared their own ashure recipe with us in occasion of this year’s Day of Ashure, and encourage everybody to make their version depending on what they have available and give a bowl to whoever lives nearby! The convivium’s gathering reminded participants to celebrate our dissimilarities. Just like each bowl of ashure, our communities are all made of unique and different blends of ingredients that come together in harmony!
Photo credit: Valerio Muscella
Ashure recipe (makes 40 bowls):
2 cups of wheat
1 cup of chick peas
1 cup of beans
100 grams of dried apricots cut in small pieces
100 grams of figs cut in small pieces
Black seeds (also known as black-caraway or black cumin)
1 tablespoon of honey
1 pinch of salt
1 orange peel in thin slices (discard the water to avoid bitter taste)
Half a lemon’s zest
5 cups of sugar or grape molasses
Other options may be but not limited to: Almonds, peanuts, apple, chestnuts, orange, pear, raisins, prune, any dry or fresh fruit as desired
Topping: Walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, sesame, coconut, almonds, fresh pomegranate, cinnamon, hazelnuts
One night before: Soak the wheat, chickpeas and beans in water. Boil wheat in a big pan with 10 cups of water for about 10 minutes and then urn the heat off. It will absorb the water and soften by the morning.
The day you cook: Add 4 cups of water to the precooked wheat and let it boil. At each step stir continuously: don’t let the bottom stick. Add dry fruits, seeds, salt and molasses/sugar and boil for additional 10-15 minutes. Serve with toppings, decorate and enjoy. It will get thicker as it cools down so you may add boiled water as needed while cooking. You can adjust water and sugar depending on your taste.
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