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Tarhana (Turkish), tarkhina, tarkhana, tarkhwana (Persian ترخینه، ترخانه، ترخوانه), trachanas/trahanas (Greek τραχανάς) or (xino)chondros ((ξυνό)χονδρος), trahana (Albanian), трахана/тархана (Bulgarian), kishk (Egypt), or kushuk (Iraq) are dried foods based on a fermented mixture of grain and yoghurt or fermented milk, usually made into a thick soup with water, stock, or milk (Persian Ash-e tarkhina doogh آش ترخینه دوغ). As it is both acid and low in moisture the milk proteins keep for long periods. Tarhana is very similar to some kinds of kishk.

The Turkish tarhana consists of cracked wheat (or flour), yoghurt, and vegetables fermented then dried. The Greek cuisine trahana contains only cracked wheat or a cous cous-like pasta and fermented milk. In Cyprusmarker, it is considered a national specialty, and is often flavored with bay leaf, wild thyme, and fennel seed.

Like many other foodstuffs which originated from the need to preserve food—cured ham, smoked fish,and the like—tarhana soup is often eaten as a matter of taste and choice where fresh food is abundant and refrigeration available.

Tarhana may be stored and sold as small cakes or coarse lumps. It is usually available in packets in shops selling food products from the regions where tarhana is eaten.

History

Hill and Bryer suggest that tarhana is related to τρακτον/tractum, a thickener Apicius wrote about in the first century which most other authors consider to be a sort of cracker crumb. Dalby (1996) connects it to the τραγός/τραγανός described (and condemned) in Galen's Geoponica 3.8. Weaver (2002) also considers it of Western origin.

Perry, on the other hand, considers that the phonetic evolution of τραγανός to tarhana is unlikely, and that it probably comes from Persian tarkhâne. He considers the resemblance to τραγανός and to τραχύς 'coarse' coincidental, though he speculates that τραχύς may have influenced the word by folk etymology.

In Persian language sources the name of this food is mentioned in the form Tarkhana in the 11th century by al-Zamakhshari in his dictionary, and in the 13th century in the form Tarkhina in the Jahangiri encyclopedia (named after Jahangir the Mughal emperor of India). Tar in Persian means wet or soaked and khan or khwan (both spelled the same and W is not pronounced) means dining place/table, or food, or large wooden bowl. Thus in Persian it would mean watered or soaked food, which matches the way the soup is made; Tarhana must be soaked in water and other possible ingredients are then added and cooked for some time.

Manufacture

Tarhana is made by mixing flour, yoghurt or sour milk, and optionally cooked vegetables, salt, and spices (notably tarhana herb), letting the mixture ferment, then drying, and usually grinding and sieving the result. The fermentation produces lactic acid and other compounds giving tarhana its characteristic sour taste and good keeping properties: the pH is lowered to 3.4-4.2, and the drying step reduces the moisture content to 6-10%, resulting in a medium inhospitable to pathogens and spoilage organisms, while preserving the milk proteins.

Preparation

Tarhana are cooked as a thick soup by adding them to stock, water, or milk and simmering. In Albaniamarker it is made with wheat flour and yoghurt into small pasta-like chunks which are dried and crushed; the powder is used to cook a soup which is served with bread cubes.

See also

  • Tarhonya, a Hungarian noodle whose name comes from tarhana


References



Bibliography

  • Françoise Aubaile-Sallenave, "Al-Kishk: the past and present of a complex culinary practice", in Sami Zubaida and Richard Tapper, A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East, London and New York, 1994 and 2000, ISBN 1-86064-603-4.
  • Elisabeth Luard, The Old World Kitchen, ISBN 0553052195



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