You cannot visit Turkey without coming across a very special dessert. The name of this flavour Turkish desert is Noah’s ark pudding. It is also and more commonly known as ‘aşure’. Noah’s ark pudding is a cornucopia of healthy ingredients like dried fruits, legumes and whole-grain wheat. They are sweet with the joining of sugar and fruit juices and cooked all together in one pot. This pudding traditionally contains a lot of different nutritional sources. Some of them are apricots, raisins, currants, figs, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts. Furthermore, aşure also contains chickpeas, and navy beans to name just a few ingredients.
Some cooks even add chestnuts, lima beans, bulgur wheat and slivers of fresh coconut. Almost anything goes.
The Dessert As Old As The History of Humankind
Noah’s ark pudding, like many Turkish dishes, has its own story behind it. Turkish legend has it that the first version of ‘aşure’ was made by Noah himself. After weeks on the ark, the waters began to recede. As food stocks dwindled, Noah decided to throw bits of everything he had left on the ark into one pot.
In modern Turkish culture, Noah’s ark pudding is a symbol of diversity, friendship, and unity. When a cook prepares ‘aşure,’ they make a lot. Because it’s customary to distribute bowls of pudding to as many friends and neighbours as possible.
Roots of Ashura
‘Aşure,’ the Turkish name for Noah’s pudding, is associated with Ashura. Ashura is common throughout the Middle East and spans many cultures, traditions, and religions. So, Ashura was originally a Jewish celebration. The celebration is marking the rescue of Moses from the Pharaoh during which Hebrews fasted. At the same time, Sunni Muslims connect this period during the year with the deliverance of Moses, too.
There are even says that people in Haiti are also celebrating a version of Ashura!
How to Make Aşure – Noah’s Ark Pudding
There is no set recipe for making Noah’s ark pudding. So, there are hundreds, if not thousands of variations. Because of that, you can use the basic recipe below as a guide. You can adapt the ingredients and according to your taste or what you have on hand. Classic versions of ‘aşure’ use rose water to flavour the pudding.
- 3 cups uncooked whole grain wheat or barley
- 1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
- 1 1/2 cups canned navy beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1/4 cup uncooked rice
- 3 tablespoon dried currants
- 3 tablespoon pine nuts
- 8 dried apricots (cut into chunks)
- 8 dried figs (cut in chunks)
- 3 cups of sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Zest of 1 orange (optional)
- Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
- 2 tablespoon rose water (optional)
First of all, the night before put the wheat or barley in a large pot and cover it with plenty of water.
Then, bring it to a boil, cover and reduce the heat. Allow it to boil gently for about ten minutes.
Afterwards, turn off the heat and leave the grain to cool and soak overnight.
The next morning, the grain should have absorbed most, if not all the liquid. Add the chickpeas, beans, rice, dried fruits, sugar and optional rose water or orange, and lemon zest.
Add more water to just cover the ingredients if needed. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Stir the mixture gently with a wooden spoon as it cooks until it thickens.
Remove it from the heat and fill dessert bowls or a large serving bowl with the pudding.
Once it cools down and sets, cover and refrigerate it for several hours.
Before serving, garnish the pudding with fresh pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, finely chopped dried fruits and groundnuts.
Some prefer their pudding more watery, some prefer it stiffer. If you prefer a stiffer pudding, add a teaspoon or two of powdered gelatin while the mixture cooks. This will give you a firmer pudding once it cools down.