Turkish tarhana is one of the oldest forms of preserved wheat and dairy food in the eastern Mediterranean, and it hasn’t evolved much over the centuries. Its gende, sour flavor comes from yogurt, soured milk, or yeast. The one I offer here, made with a combination of yogurt, semolina flour, and quince has a unique flavor and complex aroma and is a personal favorite from the Black Sea town of Amasra. It is used to flavor vegetable dishes such as Eggplant Sautéed with Zucchini and Quince Tarhana and Quince-Flavored Tarhana Soup.
To make this quince-flavored tarhana, onion, tomatoes, and fresh red pepper are pureed in a food processor, then blended with baked quince, yogurt, salt, and dill. The mixture is left to lightly ferment for three days. A mixture of flour and semolina, fenugreek, and salt is worked in to make a firm dough. The mixture is dumped into a cloth bag and left to drain. The hard dough is formed into flat small balls and left to dry in the sun. (I use a home dehydrator, but you can use a slow oven to dry them completely.) The dried pieces are then crushed to a coarse powder. If well dried, the tarhana will keep up to two years.
This is a “commitment recipe,” but well worth the trouble. It takes about a week to make, but less than twenty minutes of actual hard work. Here is the recipe in the style of the town of Amasra.
With thanks to Maviye Kayaktran of Amasra, Turkey, for sharing this recipe.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.