After having strained the yogurt to make ayran (a typical Turkish drink), salt, butter and ground wheat are added and the mixture is set to boil in a large pot. At least three people are required for this operation: the first takes care of the fire, the second mixes without ever stopping while the third person slowly adds the wheat. This mixture must be left to sit for an entire night, so that it can cool and rise. The following day, before dawn, the mixture is removed from the pot and is then kneaded. Balls of dough about the size of a palm are formed and then stretched out, to then be left to sit in the sun for two days on nets made of canes or wild olive branches. This preparation usually takes place in Autumn, and the Tarhana are fried in oil on a wood burning stove or they are simply eaten with walnuts and almonds.
The story goes that in 1517 the ninth Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Selim I, wanted to reach and conquer Egypt by taking the so called “Conqueror’s Road”, through the Sinai desert. Upon his arrival in Beysehir, he asked the governor Karlioglu Sinan to find food that could be conserved at length. Thus Tarhana was prepared for the first time in the Icerisehir neighborhood, was perfectly conserved and allowed the army to cross the desert.
Tarhana is produced for personal consumption and, unfortunately, this tradition is being lost both because of its difficult preparation, which ever few people know today, and also because there are no festivals or similar events in its honor. What’s more, Tarhana can not be prepared by one person, and the reduction of relationships among neighbors and collective gatherings make it ever more difficult to prepare the product.