Yelten Tarhana

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Yelten Tarhanası

Tarhana, a product made from dried grains, vegetables and yogurt or milk, is the first “instant soup” ever. It is said that the name comes from the phrase “dar hane” meaning “poor peasant,” as, according to legend, it was the only dish a poor peasant wife could quickly prepare as an offering to a visiting sultan. It was invented by the Central Asian Turks as a way to be able to consume yogurt in every season, and over time it spread to the neighboring Balkans. It is often served to weaning babies. Local producers have a ritual while placing tarhana in cotton sacks for storage in which they say: “Thanks God for this abundance. This part is for God, this part is for my guests, this part is for my neighbors and this part is to share in family.”  

Preparation method for Yelten tarhana is the same used a hundred years ago. The ingredients are soured or curded milk, tomato, crushed and boiled chickpeas, ground chickpeas and wheat flour, homemade chickpea yeast, black cumin (Nigella genus) and dried mint. The soured milk is poured into a tub and mixed with chopped tomato. This mixture is stored in the sun. Chickpea yeast is mixed in, along with the mint and black cumin seeds. Then tthe grushed and boiled chickpeas are added, followed by the coarsely ground chickpeas and wheat flour. This wet mixture is placed in a “salted” coten sack and stored for 30-45 days, turned once a week. Once dry, the tarhana is cruehed into a powder and stored for consumption in the winter. It is prepared as a soup, disolving the tarhana in water with other ingredients and spices.  

In the village of Yelten in the district of Korkuteli in southeastern Turkey, each household produces about 50-100 kg of tarhana per year. In general, total production is about 10-12 tons in a season. Producers make it for their own family, although some producers from the village are selling their excess product at the village market once a week. Today, though, younger generations are not interested in the time-consuming process of making tarhana. Many who have moved to cities have lost the knowledge of how to prepare it, and so this food tradition is at risk of being lost. 

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Akdeniz Bölgesi

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