In last week’s Turkish Food Focus, we took you back to the Van region with us, to Erciş, and we indulged in some very tasty, buttery trout, cooked in three different ways. All of this happened at Yeşil Erciş Alabalık, an eatery we went to after watching Van Lake’s unique inci kefal (pearl mullet) attempt to swim upstream for their spawning season.
So, apart from alabalık (trout), you might remember that we told you this restaurant serves one other dish, a dish that our friend recommended we sample. That dish is ayran aşı and it was ordered for us (sometimes you get no choice in these matters – you just do as you’re told) by our friend. “One bowl between you,” she said. “It’s very filling.”
Well, we all know what ayran is – that famous Turkish drink of watered down natural yoghurt and salt to taste. It took us a while to acquire any type of taste for ayran but we’re now seasoned professionals and usually have some chilling in the fridge, as well as ordering it when we go out to eat. But ayran aşı is hot!
We were both curious and couldn’t wait to try it. One bowl, two spoons and five minutes later, the bowl was empty. Our friend was right; it is very filling and one bowl between us was enough, especially when fresh, plump trouts were about to be served!
So what is ayran aşı? I memorised the name of this soup and have only just looked it up this morning. For starters, it looks as though it can be written all as one word, rather than two separate ones, but we’re going with two. Run it through Google Translate and you’re given a translation of yoghurt soup. That’s essentially what we ate that day.
Ayran aşı is a famous dish in the east of Turkey and the ingredients of yoghurt, water, flour, egg and mint are the same as yayla çorbası.
But there’s more to ayran aşı. It’s wholesome comfort food. A spoonful of the soup revealed barley and chickpeas as well as pickled vegetables (turşu). From recipes we’ve researched, the turşu addition isn’t common, but, as we love all things pickled, it was perfect for us.
And the verdict? Well, we hope to visit the east of Turkey again before long – and we’ll definitely be looking out for ayran aşı – preferably with the addition of turşu. It’s a winner!