Time for Aşure – Noah’s Pudding

The first time we came across aşure was Christmas Day a few years ago.

We were doing the rounds, bearing gifts and a few stops had been planned. Then we would return home for Christmas dinner.

The visits to Turkish friends were supposed to be a quick, ‘Hello, Merry Christmas and here’s your Christmas gift. Must dash.’

However, what we should have been more than fully aware of, is that that is just not possible with Turkish friends. Hospitality is everything – the guest is everything! Luckily, we’d given ourselves a bit of leeway with regards to time.

And so a Christmas Day stroll, in the warm sunshine, along Fethiye harbour and to ‘house visit’ number one.

“We can’t stay. We’re just dropping these off and then we’re going to…”

‘Nonsense. You can come in for ten minutes.’

Before we knew it, we were taking our shoes off, slippers were placed on the doorstep for us and we were sat in their house exchanging gifts. Then a bowl of food appeared.

Aşure, Noah's Pudding

We took delivery of this bowl of aşure from our friends

This is aşure.

The Legend of Aşure

One of the most popular stories as to why aşure exists is that once the floods had subsided, Noah made a last meal on the ark. Aşure is also called Noah’s Pudding or Noah’s Dessert.

As there wasn’t an abundance of food left in the ark’s food stores, Noah used the various ingredients that were left over (grains, pulses, dried fruit) and produced this bountiful and very filling concoction.

Aşure Ingredients

Today, in the 21st Century, ingredients vary slightly between different regions of Turkey and countries of the Middle East. Generally, if you are offered a bowl of aşure, you are likely to find ingredients such as:

  • Barley
  • Wheat
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Rice
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Oranges
  • Orange peel
  • Pomegranate (when they’re in season)
  • Dried fruits such as raisins, figs and apricots
  • Lots of cinnamon
  • Sugar

When Do You Eat Aşure?

On that Christmas Day, all those years ago, it was also aşure time of year. But that doesn’t mean aşure time and Christmas always coincide.

Aşure is one of the oldest recipes of this part of the world and is traditionally made, served and eaten during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic Calendar. As the Islamic calendar follows a lunar pattern, so does ‘aşure time.’

So, in the 2020s, we are going to be eating aşure during the summer months.

Aşure Serving

A gift of aşure from our neighbour

Turkish people make aşure and serve it to family, friends and neighbours and it’s served as a symbol of peace and love – no arguments about those sentiments!

Some people, like our neighbour, make so much for giving out around the neighbourhood that they serve it in foil trays. But if you’re walking past someone’s house and they’re sitting outside eating their aşure, don’t be surprised if those people shout you over to join them in the eating of this Noah’s Pudding.

And if you think the ingredients listed above seem like aşure is a filling pudding, you are perfectly right to think like this. Sitting with a Turkish family, eating a generous serving their aşure when you’ve possibly just eaten lunch is no easy task!

And if you think the ingredients listed above seem like an odd combination, they are an odd combination. Slowly, slowly, over the years, however, we’ve grown to love aşure time.

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Comments

  1. Hope you’re having a wonderful time with family & friends, Merry Christmas!

  2. wow….amusing dessert! Never heard of aşure before and never heard of Jayp and Julie talking of desserts =P hehehehe…..Merry Xmas n Happy New Year!!

  3. Ahhh, world would be much, much better place if we all just “shared a bowl of aşure”!

    Really enjoyed reading this, while having my morning cup of Turkish coffee 🙂

    Hatidza

  4. @ Peter: Thanks. Same to you. It’s been a very different but lovely Christams so far.
    @ Cardamom Hills: Ha ha. Yes, JayP has now become Julia (nickname to real name) errm and yes, we were GIVEN a dessert by friends. WE didn’t make it! 🙂
    @ Hatidza: Wouldn’t it just!!? Let’s have more aşure. 🙂
    Thanks and hope you enjoyed morning cup of Turkish coffee 🙂

  5. I can not eat Asure. Very sweet for my liking. Thing is though, as you will well know. In Turkey it is impossible to say no, they either take offence or carrying on offering it to you until you say yes, just to keep the peace.

  6. We weren’t even asked if we wanted any Natalie. The spoons were given to us and the asure appeared in front of us. 🙂

  7. I never fail to marvel at what exotic ingredients to Turks throw together and the results are always delicious. Your experience is a point in case.

  8. The pudding looks delicious, any chance of sharing the recipe?

  9. That must have been really nice to have pudding over there. Even Turks have a better Christmas than most people over here in Malaysia. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year 2010.

    David
    MalaysiaAsia

  10. That looks yummy!

  11. Such a warm and entertaining post about your Christmas Day. Aşure sounds and looks great – you’re photo is mouth-watering!

  12. @ Inka: Yes, it’s certainly a concoction isn’t it? I’d have never have put some of those together.

    @ Ayngelina: Loads of different recipes on the internet but I’m going to ask my friend how she does it because she’s a great cook! 🙂

    @ David: It was lovely! It appears that slowly, slowly, the Turks are adopting our traditional Christmas celebrations as their New Year celebrations.

    @ Robin: Filling and rich – a few spoonfuls were yummy! Think we could get used to it though.

    @ Cathy: Thanks. It was a ‘warm’ Christmas Day, really.

  13. @Julia Aşure has nothing to do with Noah.

    Aşure is an Alevi tradition. Sometimes it is name can be different such as in Bosnia it is called Abdal Musa soup.

    Aşure is the mourning day of us. It is the end of Alevi Muharrem Fast and Lunar calendar is different from sun calendar so every year the day is changing according to sun calendar.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alevi

    The Muslim month of Muharram (or Mâtem Orucu) begins 20 days after Eid ul-Adha (Kurban Bayramı). Alevis observe a fast for the first twelve days. This culminates in the festival of Ashura (Aşure), which commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain at Karbala. The fast is broken with a special dish (also called Aşure) prepared from a variety (often twelve in number) of fruits, nuts, and grains. Many events are associated with this celebration, including the salvation of Hussain’s son Zaynul Abideen from the massacre at Karbala, thus allowing the bloodline of the family of the prophet to continue. During the Kerbela Massacre Hussain’s family was under siege for days and this soup is a symbol of all oppressed people and hunger. It is a food dedicated to peace and it is very important for us. Even some Christians or Jews cook Ashure in Turkey also the Roma people in Turkey give importance to Ashure and other important days of Alevis. Ashure is cooked to share with other people and it has love in it.

  14. @ Eastanbul: Our friends and a bit of internet research told us the Noah bit. I also read a little about the period after Kurban Bayram but couldn’t find enough info to write about so thanks for that.

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