The Joy Of Ayran – The Health Benefits & How To Make It

The Turkish yoghurt drink, ayran, has caused much confusion – dare we even say distress – over the years.

By that, we mean confusion for the foreign visitor; especially British holidaymakers looking to buy ingredients for their essential morning cup of tea! Here’s a little tale to explain what we mean…

Ayran – Drinking Yoghurt, Not Milk

Ayran - Yoghurt Not Milk

A salty yoghurt drink – it’s not milk

Dad comes out to Fethiye for a visit so we phone him to check he got here okay.

Me: Hi dad. How’s your apartment? We’ll come round to see you in a few minutes.
Dad: (In a very grumpy voice.) Apartment’s fine and when you come round, bring some milk with you! I’ve bought two bottles and they’ve both been sour. It keeps curdling when I try to make a cup of tea and it tastes awful!

This is our ‘tee hee moment’ because we know exactly what’s happened. We have lots of conversations like this with people who come to Turkey and go self-catering.

We can’t decide if there are lots of Turkish shop owners who have a good old chuckle to themselves as unsuspecting foreigners pay for their ‘milk,’ (only to return to the shop again a few minutes later to make another attempt) or if the shop owner thinks everyone loves ayran as much as they do.

The first supposition is definitely funnier!

What Is Ayran Made Of?

Just as we learned the art of drinking that other Turkish national drink, rakı, we only started to drink ayran in any quantity once we’d lived here for three or four years; it’s an acquired taste!

Ayran is not milk.

It’s a yoghurt drink – a mixture of natural yoghurt, water and salt and, as the hotter weather creeps along the shores of Southern Turkey, it’s a fantastic summer drink. These days, we can’t imagine life without it!

Of course, we drink ayran year round; not just in summer.

But if it’s served ice cold on a roasting hot day, it’s liquid heaven. “Buz gibi ayran,” is a favourite Turkish phrase, often said with dreamy smile. “Ayran like ice.”

You can’t miss it when you’re in Turkey. It’s part of the fabric of Turkish society. It’s a fact of life. It’s sold in plastic bottles (exactly the same as a British milk bottle), glass bottles, plastic cartons, cardboard cartons, by the glass, people make their own – everyone drinks ayran and we’ve definitely joined the fan club too!

So, now you must be wondering…why is ayran good for you?

Ayran Benefits – 4 Fantastic Reasons to Love This Yoghurt Drink

1. Ayran is easy on the budget and filling

If you’re in Turkey on a budget, most of the eateries where you sit down to eat your food will sell ayran. Eat your food, drink your ayran and it’ll be very cheap. And, just as important, you will be extra full.

These days, we’re living in a world where we know of the importance of trying to reduce our plastic usage. If you’re in an eatery and you order ayran, ask if they serve açık (ach-erk) ayran. This is our favourite version anyway as it’s super fresh and you get a lovely light foam spooned over the top.

It’ll typically be served in a traditional copper cup or in a glass.

Açık Ayran

Look out for the açık ayran machines

Much better this than a small carton that has been mass produced in a factory. Açık ayran is more fun, too. If you don’t use your straw, you can have a frothy moustache while you drink it.

Some places even serve it with a spoon so you can take your time, eating the foam top before reaching the ice cold yoghurt drink below.

2. Ayran is good for you in hot weather

The summer months in Southern Turkey can see temperatures in the 40s. And, especially along the Mediterranean coast, this is sometimes combined with sweltering humidity.

This is where you begin to understand why Turks swear by ayran. Served icy cold, the yoghurt’s magical properties help cool down over-heated bodies while the salt replenishes those salts lost during bouts of ridiculous and uncontrollable sweating.

We love to order a glass of açık ayran with our gözleme when we’re attempting to do our food shopping at Fethiye market on Tuesdays or Çalış market on Sundays.

Shopping in the summer heat can get quite taxing on occasion but a gözleme and yoghurt drink combo can give the necessary fuel to get round the stalls for the necessary fruit and veg.

Açık Ayran And Gözleme

Açık ayran and gözleme make for a good shopping combo

3. Prevention is better than cure…but ayran can help the curing process, too!

Because it’s yoghurt-based it helps to settle the stomach should you be unfortunate enough to develop a dose of the Turkey Trots (you know; griping, gurgling stomach, running to the loo every few minutes).

Again, the salt will restore those salts you lose while this unpleasant action is taking place!

We all know too much sun and alcohol shouldn’t be mixed. But we’ve all done it. In a majority of cases, this is what causes your illness – not last night’s kebab.

Get yourself to the chemist, swig your medication down, sip some ayran throughout the day and you’ll hopefully be back up and running in no time at all.

4. Ayran is good sporty replenishment

If you do a lot of exercise like we do, ayran is great replenishment for when you have finished your workout. According to the NHS, dairy drinks (especially milk) help your body recover quicker.

We love to glug a glass down after a long run – it replaces salts, and, after just burning so many calories, it takes away those immediate hunger pangs, too. Until your next meal.

5. Well, ayran just tastes great!

Ayran Copper Cup

It looks the part when served in copper or pewter cups

For some people (including us) it takes a while to get your head round drinking salty, watery, yoghurt. But, once you’ve acquired the taste, you’ll wonder why it took so long to have this traditional Turkish drink in your life.

And it’ll really feel like a taste of Turkey if you can get it served in a classic copper or pewter cup.

How Do You Make Ayran?

So, now that we know this yoghurt drink is not only tasty but it’s also good for us, what if you can’t buy ayran in the UK or wherever else you might be reading this? Well, thankfully, it’s really easy to get the taste of Turkey and make your own ayran at home.

5.0 from 1 reviews
How To Make Ayran
 
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Turkish
Serves: 3
Prep time:
Total time:
 
This homemade ayran yoghurt drink is both creamy and frothy. It's a great cooling summer drink but you can drink it all year round.
Ingredients
  • 500g süzme (strained) natural yoghurt
  • 1 litre cold water
  • 1 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add your yoghurt.
  2. Add your water a little at a time, stirring as you go so that you keep a smooth consistency.
  3. Add more water if you want it thinner.
  4. Mix in your salt.
  5. Whisk with a hand blender for around 30 seconds until you get a foam on top.
  6. Refrigerate for roughly one hour and then carefully ladle into glasses, keeping the frothy texture.
Notes
As with all our recipes, calories are meant as a rough guide. The brand of yoghurt you use - and the amount you use - will cause differences.
You can choose how thick or how watery you want your ayran to be. These measurements are not fixed.
Serve your ayran with a sprig of fresh mint if you like.
Our recipe made just under 1 litre of ayran. The consistency of yoghurt differs so you could get more than 1 litre.
If you can't find Turkish süzme yoghurt, Greek natural yoghurt is a similar consistency.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 100

And that’s our very simple homemade ayran recipe. As we’ve said in the notes to this recipe, you can choose how thick or how watery you want it to be. If we buy branded varieties, I often just pour two thirds of a glass and then top up with cold water.

How To Make Ayran

Our homemade ayran – creamy and frothy

Açık ayran is different. It looks really thick because of the foam on top but the consistency of the actual yoghurt drink is perfect for my taste.

When you make your own at home, the consistency will have changed slightly when you remove it from the fridge. Your froth, created by blending, will have gone slightly creamier, giving you the taste of that lovely homemade texture.

And if you feel it’s too thick, just add more water.

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Comments

  1. I love Ayran, especially at lunch time with a kebab. LOL at your dad, I know too many people who have done this. It also works perfectly as a cure for a dodgy stomach.

  2. Your poor dad. We love Ayran and drink lots of it.

  3. the picture is perfect Julia, btw Ayran is my favorite drink:)

  4. Anonymous says

    I discovered Ayran in Turkey in 2001 for the first time and loved it. I have it in my fridge here in Montreal since I am next door to an iranian grocery store where I also buy sumac, red pepper paste, pomegrenate melasse, safran, etc. For all the reasons you wrote, I agree, but it is an acquired taste.

  5. Yes, my Dad hated the stuff even after living here for 3 years!! But then he wasn’t even a yogurt man… me? I love it and we always have some in the fridge!

  6. Ayran is absolutely delicious when it’s hot, but only Turks (and Indians)seem to appreciate it. You can’t get it in Italy for sure.
    Mette

  7. @ Natalie: He does it every time – as do our friends. We’ve got bored of telling them not to do it! 🙂

    @ Simcha: We love it too, these days.

    @ Hulya: Thank you. I don;t know if it’s our favourite drink – but it’s definitely up there with the best.

    @ Anonymous: Lucky you. I bet not many people can get hold of it.

    @ Claudia: Ha ha. We weren’t yoghurt people either. We’ve gone from no yoghurt lifestyle to daily yoghurt lifestyle since living here.

    @ Italian Notes: Thought there might be something similar in India. Shame you can’t get hold of it in Italy.

  8. Anonymous says

    I recently acquired a taste for plain yogurt and ayran. Now I’m addicted to both and have at least one of them daily. Yogurt is a miracle food. It’s good for your digestion and your immune system. I just finished a bowl of plain yogurt with mango and walnuts for breakfast. I just can’t seem to get enough of the stuff!

  9. @ Anonymous: That’s exactly the same as us. We’ve always got some type of natural yoghurt in the fridge now and we never used to like it. It’s so good in the hot weather.

  10. I’ve never heard of Ayran before, but it sounds like an acquired taste. Funny story about your dad. I can see how it would be an easy mistake to make.

  11. Your dad is so funny. I’m sure he’s still thinking, this milk isn’t right!

  12. @ Laurel: Yep, that’s my dad. He’s always doing stuff like that. 🙂

    @ Belinda: I know he’ll do it again next time he comes as well. 🙂

  13. Anonymous says

    I love the frothy Ayran at the Tuesday and Sunday market. Always get it when we are out with village bread!
    Rosemary

  14. I like yoghurt, but have never tried ayran. It’s getting hot in Texas though, so maybe I should try it 🙂

  15. Anonymous says

    There are many people in Anatolia region who are over 100 years old.

    When asked what their secret is for living such a long life they all say yogurt.

    So it makes you live longer too. 🙂

  16. Anonymous says

    Is UK yogurt taste the same as Turkish yogurt?

    I was told yogurt in America is almost always with flavor (strawberry, peach etc). Is this the case in the UK?

  17. Ayran is wonderful, and goes perfect with balik ekmek. A wonderful and cheap lunch.

  18. Woah- 40p? That is cheap! It sounds really interesting, normally I’m not a yogurt person, but I’ll always try something new!

  19. I haven’t tried it but do you think it is similar to Kefir albeit a runnier version. If I run across it a Turkish specialty market in the US I will be sure to try it. I love salty and yogurt-y drinks.

  20. @ Rosemary: Mmm, lovely with the village bread or a gözleme.

    @ Sabrina: It’s really easy to make your own and really good for you in hot weather. Have a go. 🙂

    @ Anonymous: We’ll start to drink even more then for a longer life. 🙂

    @ Anonymous: Yes, it’s the case in the UK, too. Brits looking for natural yoghurt have to go to the supermarket to buy Greek yoghurt. Turkish yoghurt is the same as this – although it’s all natural, without added flavours, there are still different varieties of natural yoghurt.

    @ hrafen: We usually go for a çay with balik ekmek and an ayran with meat dishes. Don’t know why. Just a habit.

    @ Jade: It should be a summertime necessity for everyone.

    @ Grace: I’ve never had kefir but it’snot nearly as complicated as that. If you like kefir, you’ll definitely like ayran though.

  21. Kuei-Ti Lu says

    In Taiwan, there are both flavored and original yogurt. Some people also teach how to do yogurt by oneself.

    Now I wonder where I can find ayran in the United States or whether there is a recipe I can follow.

  22. Ha ha…funny! Maybe I’ll need to pull a “trick” on my in-laws this weekend with ayran. However, I don’t think my father-in-law would find it as funny as myself and my husband. =)

  23. For those in the UK Ayran is much the same as plain unsweetened Lassi, available at many Asian restaurants.

  24. @ Kuei-Ti Lu: It’s easy to make yourself. You just need some natural yoghurt and water it down, adding a little bit of water at a time. Then as much salt as you like.

    @ Joy: When you;re expecting the flavour of milk, you can imagine how nasty ayran must taste. It’s only good when you know what it is. 🙂

    @ hrafen: Thanks for that. I’ve just had to look Lassi up – and we’re from the UK. 🙂 It does seem similar.

  25. Kuei-Ti Lu says

    Thank you, Julia! I will definitely try it this summer. By the way, is there any story surrounding ayran?

  26. Anonymous says

    Ayran is available all over the Middle East and it is mass produced in several countries. Is it Turkish or is it Arabic? Ditto for Raki which is called Arak in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Again, is it Turkish or Arabic?

  27. @ Kuei-Ti Lu: I’m nit sure if there is any story surrounding it. We’ll have to do some research. 🙂 Good luck with making it.

    @ Anonymous: We’re sure it is but when we’re in Turkey, we drink Turkish ayran. The same with raki. If we we were in Lebanon, Syria or Jordan, we would be drinking arak. If we were in Greece, we would drink ouzo. There are too many crossovers with many cuisines of the world to actually determine where they originally came from. The main thing for us is to enjoy them for what they are. 🙂

  28. Yummy! I love ayran.

  29. @ Deniz: Us too. So refreshing in this hot weather.

  30. I love Ayran but they don’t always taste the same!! I have been served a couple which have tasted awful!!! Some seem to better than others in my experience!!

  31. @ Anonymous: No, they don’t all taste the same. All down to personal taste. You’ll quite often see Turks adding salt to their carton of ayran because it’s not salty enough. We had one on Istanbul recently that might as well have been yoghurt, it was so thick. All good though – for us, anyway. 🙂

  32. I got introduced to this stuff by Mosin @ City Doner in Gottingen, Germany. I was hooked ever since I first got it at his suggestion.

  33. @ Anonymous: Well, not many people are hooked the first time they try ayran so good for you that you were. Hope you’re still enjoying it. 🙂

  34. I have to say that the thought of drinking “salty, watery, yoghurt” doesn’t sound too appetizing but I trust your opinion. Glad that I learned about ayran here so I won’t make the “milk” mistake when I visit.

  35. Saad Durrani says

    Well, it seems so odd but for years I have been drinking it in Pakistan as “namkeen lassi”. It is a known fact that there are many Turkish influences in our lives—we have same words for “friends (dost)”, “enemies (dushman)”, etc.

    On a hot summery day, Ayran (or Lassi) makes your heart sing.

  36. @ Cathy Sweeney: And ayran is an acquired taste for many people, too, including us. We really didn’t like it. Don’t make the milk mistake because then everyone knows you’re a first time visitor. 😉

  37. @ Saad Durrani: Ahh, we’ve heard the name ‘lassi’ before. So interesting how food (and drink) and language bridges countries and cultures. And we all agree that ayran / lassi definitely makes your heart sing on a sunny day. Thanks a lot for your comment. 🙂

  38. Judy Kellett says

    In the interest of completeness, I mention that the Afghans have a similar drink called Doogh. which follows the same yoghurt, water, bit of salt line but which sometimes has dried mint, while the Indians like theirs with cumin and black salt.

    I love Ayran, and I make it for myself most days here in Australia. When I was in Turkey I drank it a lot, finding it just the thing after too much hiking round Ephesus or the Topkapi Palace. It’s a phenomenal restorative!

  39. I love ayran… it’s healthy, it’s fulfilling, it’s delicious… I can’t think of anything better than ayran to accompany Turkish kebabs.

  40. Bill Zablosky says

    I don;t know if anyone has mentioned this but this drink is manufactured in Peterborough Ont, Canada at CDC Inc.and we just call it yogurt soda

    • No, no one mentioned it, Bill. Good to know you can drink ayran – yogurt soda – in Canada, too then. 🙂 You can get manufactured ayran here in Turkey but most people make their own.

  41. I recently discovered ayran via a Turkish cookbook by Ozcan Ozan. Since summers in Santiago Chile also get pretty hot, I’ve developed an enormous fondness for the drink. Between ayran and cerkez tavugu, maybe I’m turning into a Turk .

    • Hi Larry. Thanks for your comment. Think we’ve got the very cook book you mention! 🙂 Yeah, ayran is so lovely, especially when eaten with a kebab. 😉 Easy to get addicted to Turkish cuisine. 🙂

  42. MARK DANTONI says

    That looks so good! Ayran is such a great drink (for being non-alcoholic). You’re making me miss Turkey. Best to you both.

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