It has been a very long time for me since my grandmother has left me, endless… She was the one who thought me a lot of things about food like the first time I put my hands on a big tripe to wash it on a big kitchen sink under the hand freezing running cold water. Those trotter, tripe soups simmering all night long, the smell of the kitchen after a pot full of strawberry jam made, scratching the bottom of the pan with my small fingers, eating the unbaked cake batter…
Tarhana soup was one of her things, which she used to prepare during summer months, when the ingredients like pepper and tomatoes are at their best and let it dry on a thin tea towel under the sun. Soon to be a rich, thick, floury soup, tarhana was loved by the whole family and scooped down on the winter days.
Tarhana is a very common soup all around Turkey, being prepared at almost every region, city, villages, with different ingredients, techniques. As I don’t have my grandmother with me anymore neither her magic hands, tarhana I consume on winter months is prepared by Yurdagül, our long faithful helper at where my mom lives in Yalıkavak. As is cooking, no tarhana she sends me is the same every year, which I love.
She uses döğme (wheat), flour, home made drained yogurt, red peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, mint and of course Yalıkavak’s parching sun and lovely breeze. She first brings to boil the onion, tomatoes, peppers in little water, after a little cooled down she adds wheat, flour, garlic, mint, yogurt and mix them together, forming a thick batter. Then she covers this big pot with a piece of tülbent, a see through cotton cheesecloth, to avoid the flies. She punches and kneads this mixture, every now and then for 3 to 5 days. After this yeasting process she tears little pieces size of meatballs and lays them under the sun for a couple of days, when the texture is dried out -but not completely- then she crumbles them through a sieve and let this dry a couple of days more. Portions it to her family, me, my mom, the other lucky ones, this has been one of my favorite shipments along with the other home made goodies.
Turning tarhana into a soup with some stock, maybe adding some mince meat or not, some pepper paste or not, drizzling it with butter and chilies… or not…
Sometimes all it takes is just a bowl of soup, to remind our most loved ones, most happy times hence they are never forgotten.
Note from Tuba: I wrote this piece to my granny, missing her everyday and to all the loving grandmothers of our world!