DID YOU KNOW… what was allegedly the last meal on Noah’s Ark, a pudding made from over 20 sweet and sour ingredients, is still served in Turkey?
Otherwise known as ‘aşure’, Noah’s Ark pudding is a combination of ingredients, such as dried fruits, beans and whole grains, sweetened with sugar and fruit juices and cooked together in one big pot.
Noah’s Ark pudding, like many Turkish dishes, has its own story behind it. Turkish myth tells that the first version of ‘aşure’ was prepared by Noah himself. After weeks on the ark, as the waters began to recede, so did the food stocks decrease, so Noah decided to throw a little of everything he had left into a pot. The end result being a delightful pudding that kept him and his crew well-fed until the ark finally came to rest on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey. Some claim that ‘aşure’ is the oldest dessert in the world.
In modern Turkish culture, Noah’s Ark pudding is a symbol of friendship and unity. When ‘aşure,’ is prepared, it is prepared in abundance and shared with both friends and neighbours. Whilst aşure is made all the year round in Turkey, it is traditionally prepared during “Muharram”, which is the first month of the Islamic calendar.
‘Aşure,’ is also associated with Ashura, a religious day celebrated by Muslims around the world, which commemorates the day Noah left the Ark.
There is no single recipe for making Noah’s Ark pudding as there are many variations; ingredients can be adapted according to taste and whatever you have to hand at the time. Classic versions of ‘aşure’ use rose water to flavour.
Here is Ozlem Warren’s version to get you started! You can view more of Ozlem’s recipes at Ozlem’s Turkish Table.
50gr/2oz haricot (navy) beans, soaked overnight (or at least for 6 hours) and drained
50gr/2oz skinned broad (fava) beans soaked overnight (or at least for 6 hours) and drained
50gr/2oz chickpeas (garbanzo beans) soaked overnight (or at least for 6 hours) and drained
115gr/4oz pot barley, with husks removed, and soaked overnight in plenty of water
50gr/2oz rice, washed and drained
115gr/4oz dried apricots
30ml/2 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch) or rice flour
150ml /1/4 pint rose water
2 teaspoons/10 ml cinnamon
4-5 dried figs, sliced
4-5 dried apricots, sliced
15 ml/1 tablespoon sultanas
30 ml/2 tablespoon crushed walnuts
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
Cook the beans in separate pans of fresh water until just tender. The haricot beans will require about 50 minutes; the broad beans and chickpeas about 1 hour.
Transfer the barley and its soaking water to a large, deep pan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender, topping up with the water during the cooking time if necessary.
Add the cooked beans, chickpeas and the rice, and bring the liquid to boil again. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place all the dried fruit in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes, then drain. Add the fruit to the pan with the beans and stir in the sugar. Continue to simmer, stirring from time to time, until the mixture thickens.
Mix the corn flour or rice flour with a little water to form a creamy paste. Add 30ml/2tbsp of the hot liquid from the pan to the paste and add it to the pan, stirring constantly. Add the rose water and continue to simmer the mixture for another 15 minutes, stirring from to time, until the mixture is very thick.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Shake the bowl to make sure the surface is flat and leave the pudding to cool. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the pudding and arrange the sliced dried figs, apricots, sultanas and walnuts over the top. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over generously. Serve chilled or at room temperature.