Quince-Flavored Tarhana

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes about

    4 cups

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium quince
  • 1 large red (bell) pepper
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 8 ounces plain yogurt, drained (1 cup)
  • Handful of dill sprigs
  • ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast, optional
  • 1 cup pasta (semolina) flour
  • teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1 pound bread flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a heatproof glass dish, bake the quince and bell pepper for 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, discard the skin, seeds, and core.
  2. With a potato masher, crush the quince and pepper into a puree and scrape into a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, onion, and yogurt and mix well. Wrap the sprigs of dill in cheesecloth and push them into the center of the mixture. Cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature for 3 days, or until the surface is bubbling and there is a nice clean but sour aroma. Discard the dill. (If fermentation does not occur, dissolve the yeast in 2 tablespoons warm water, stir into the mixture, and let stand until bubbly.)
  3. Add the pasta flour, salt, fenugreek, and enough bread flour to make a medium-soft dough. Knead until smooth. (You can do this in a food processor, processing for about 35 seconds.) Set the dough aside, loosely covered with a cloth, for 1 more day.
  4. +
  5. The following day, place heaping spoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten each dollop to inch thick. Place in a dehydrator heated to 145°F and dry for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 105°F and leave until bone dry on both sides, 2 to 3 days, turning the pieces from time to time. The tarhana is ready when each piece is as hard as a walnut. (Alternatively, you can dry the pieces in a 150°F oven for 24 hours.) Crush the tarhana to a coarse powder in a food processor, then press through a coarse sieve. Store in a jar in a dry, dark cool place.

With thanks to Maviye Kayaktran of Amasra, Turkey, for sharing this recipe.