ترخینه، ترخانه، ترخوانه
Tarkhineh or Tarhana (or, in Persian ترخینه، ترخانه، ترخوانه) is a prepared product that usually consists of cracked wheat, yogurt, and vegetables that are fermented then dried As it is both acidic and low in moisture, the milk proteins can be kept for long periods. The fermentation produces lactic acid and other compounds, giving tarkhine its characteristic sour taste and long shelf life. During the process, the pH is lowered to 3.5-4.4, and the drying step reduces the moisture content to just 6-10%, resulting in a substance that is inhospitable to pathogens and spoilage organisms, while still preserving the milk proteins. Tarkhineh is very similar to some kinds of kashk, a dried milk or yogurt product found in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Tarkhine is consumed by being cooked as a thick soup, adding it to stock, water or milk.
Tar (تر) in Persian means “wet” or “soaked,” and khwān (خوان) means “dining place,” “table,” “food,” or “large wooden bowl.” Thus in Persian it would mean, “watered or soaked food,” which matches the way the soup is made. Tarkhineh must first be soaked in water, and other additional ingredients are then added and cooked together for some time. Aashe Tarkhineh is a traditional food that is made and consumed as a part of the everyday diet in the majority of western parts of Iran such as Malayer, Ilam, Hamedan, Arak and Boroujerd. In these areas, the taste of the tarkhineh varies slightly according to local tastes.
Tarkhineh can be found sold in some cities in western Iran, and many tribes also produce it for home consumption. However, today, many younger people are less familiar with tarkhineh, and production has declined in recent decades. The use of the product is not widespread, and is limited to the areas where it can be found on the market or communities where it is produced with regularity.
Image: © Marco del Comune & Oliver Migliore