By / 3rd February, 2014 / Turkish Cookery / No Comments
Grandma (Büyükanne in Turkish literally translating to big mother) making Aşure (Noah’s Ark Pudding) This photo shows who we call Grandma (our ex landlord’s Mother – we lived among several of families, her sons and their children, wives and grandchildren) making Aşure which is very time consuming.  If you continue reading you will learn what it’s all about, that it’s served at a particular time of the year usually, and the history re Noah’s Ark (it is believed the remains of the Ark is at the top of Mount Ararat in Turkey which can be seen from space shuttles apparently – people say this is where the Ark landed, was secured, after the great flood had subsided). How to make Aşure (Noah’s Ark Pudding) Sharing this traditional Turkish dessert called aşure/ashure or Noah’s Ark pudding to anyone regardless of race, culture, and belief symbolizes the true meaning of friendship and unity among God’s people. Isn’t it amazing how a single serving of a dessert or simple dish can give so much meaning to the world? Indeed, it is.  And what makes it even more wonderful is to see people sharing the same values of friendship and solidarity regardless of their differences in culture, religion, geographical location, etc. through a common practice in which their tradition holds so dearly. Yes – that’s exactly the “message” that the observance of makingaşure/ashure in Turkey gives to its people all throughout the passing years.
What is Aşure?
To those who had the chance to live or visit Turkey (and its neighboring Middle Eastern countries), you may probably already guess what this dessert is all about.  Yet to those who are still wondering, let me humbly introduce to you what aşure is and what makes it so important to the Turkish people. Aşure (pronounced “ah-shu-reh” in Turkish) is a traditional Turkish dessert made from about 7-15 different varieties of grains, nuts, and fruits mixed together to form a porridge-like pudding.  The word “aşure” is derived from the Hebrew word “asor” which means “the tenth” or more literally as “the tenth day” as the Aşure Günü (which means “Day of Aşure” in Turkish) usually falls on the tenth day of Muharram – the first sacred month of the year in the Islamic calendar.  On this month (and especially on the Aşure Günü), preparations of this traditional dessert are being made in huge amounts.  This will be shared with families, friends, and sent to neighbors in several small bowls of individual servings.  Through the years, this has become a common practice traditionaly observed by most people in Turkey (Turkish or non-Turkish) as well as to some of its neigboring Middle Eastern countries.
How Aşure Came To Be

Aşure has long been a part of the culinary tradition of Turkey.  This traditional dessert originated from a very popular story or a legend about Noah and his ark. To summarize briefly, the story tells of Noah and his family together with some animals aboard a large vessel or the “ark” of which they built to save themselves from the great flood.  After the long journey above high waters, the great flood has finally subsided and the ark rested on dry land, yet Noah and his family almost already run out of food.  So in order to save themselves from starving, Noah immediately decided to gather all the left over fruits, nuts, and other remaining grains in his storage and mixed them together.   The way Noah and his family prepared and cooked all the ingredients that were left from their storage resulted in a porridge-like pudding which we now call “aşure” or Noah’s Ark pudding.
“The Prophet Noah called his people to the religion of God for nine hundred and fifty years. When his people insisted on unbelief and persisted in their wrongdoings, God ordered him to build an ark. After completing the construction of the ark, Noah embarked in it, upon God’s command, and of each kind – a male and a female, his family, except those who are against the Word had already gone forth, – and the believers.” (Qur’an 11:40)
” I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”
” By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.” So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on the earth—came out of the ark, one kind after another. Genesis 8:14-19 (Bible-NIV)
Mount Ararat, also known as Ağrı Dağı in Turkish is situated in the highlands of Ağrı, a city in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey between Doğubayazıt and Iğdır near the borders of Iran and Armenia.  It’s main peak – known as Great Ararat, is the tallest peak in Turkey which rises to 5165 meters (16,945 feet).  This has been a very popular mountain site of several searches for the remains of Noah’s Ark.  The huge floating vessel (the ark) where Noah and his family along with some animals had been secured during the great flood is believed to have rested on Mount Ararat after the great flood had subsided.
Celebrating Aşure Month in Turkey
The Turks love aşure and valued the significance of the story that goes along with it.  This may well be one of the reasons why aşure has become one of the oldest and most cherished traditional dessert in the Turkish cuisine. Every year, the Muslim and Christian Turks as well as those who migrated to Turkey prepare huge amounts ofaşure in their respective households to share individual bowls of the pudding to its friends and neighbors.  This practice has long been observed in almost all regions of Turkey to commemorate the day when Noah and his companions landed on dry land and feasted on a meal made from the leftovers in the ark after their long months of journey during the great flood. As this tradition has long been treasured so dearly for many years, a festive celebration of this practice is done in Turkey every year – known as the Aşure Month.  This is the month which immediately follows the Kurban Bayramı or Feast of Sacrifice which is, a religious festival observed among the Muslims. Every year during the Aşure Months in Turkey, huge pots of aşure are now being prepared not just from each household but it also branches out to some establishments, such as in supermarkets and malls which observes this tradition.  Usually, single servings of aşure are placed in styrofoam bowls or transparent plastic containers and are given to the employees as well as to their customers for free during a particular day (Aşure Günü) within the Month of Aşure. During the past few years, the Aşure Months in Turkey were usually held in January.  Though this changes every year as the special days and religious holidays move 10 days forward each year based on the Islamic calendar.