Talkan is considered the national food of the Shor people. The root word talka means ‘to grind.’ It is a traditionally processed barley that is toasted, dried, ground in a mortar, and passed through a blowing millstone. Only through such processing does it retains all of its nutritional properties and minerals, such as: minerals, zinc, chromium, selenium, magnesium, B vitamins, fiber, and others. Talkan is produced by all the Turkic peoples of Siberia, Asia and the Caucasus. Talkan is an energy-rich product that regulates digestion, promotes the growth of lactic acid bacteria and thus support the immune system, and lowers the level of cholesterol in the blood. It is also said to lessen the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases and to regulate the function of the nervous system. It is easy to store and easy to transport. It is recommended to provide additional energy to athletes and hunters. One simple recipe using talkan is a porridge-like dish made by mixing talkan, water, oil and salt to taste. Mixing the talkan with water and milk and allowing it to rest for a few days will produce a lightly fermented beverage called bouza. The ground grain can also be used in the preparation of fillings for sausages.Shor-made talkan is different than other grains because it is made by hand on the stone mill, and not in the industrial factories. Shor talkan contains only barley that is roasted quickly over an open-air fire. Talkan is one of the main products that is known from the 6th century BC. It has been consumed almost by all Turkic peoples: the Altai, Khakassia, Shor, Kyrgyz, etc. Talkan sold commercially in its production area, and it is brought to the Altai Mountains (a neighboring region). During the Altai New Year celebration of Chaga-Bayram, which occurs during the end of February or beginning of March, talkan is one of the traditional offerings, along with syrchik (a dried cheese). This celebration has recently been rivived after years of being forgotten under Soviet rule. Shor talkan is made from barley millstones (terbium), first toasted over a fire, then pounded in a mortar. Only through such a treatment does it gets its excellent taste and keep its healing properties. Now, no one wants to produce it in such a way, and the old tools are not being saved. So today, Shor talkan is produced in some households for family consumption only.
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.