Ashure or Noah’s pudding is a dessert of Turkish origin composed of cereals and dried fruits. It is a tradition served on the day of Achoura, the tenth day of Muharram.
What is ashoura (ashura or achoura)?
Ashura, the tenth day of Muharam, is a day of great historical significance. A unique day in the history of mankind and many epic events have occurred on this day.
It is the day prophet Moses freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, a day associated with Jesus’ ascension to heaven. It is also observed as day of commemoration for Imran Hussain, the grandson of prophet Muhammad.
It is believed that God saved prophet Noah and its companions from the genesis flood on this day. And many more.
The above mentioned are just a few of the occurrences that happened on this day. Overall this day signifies the shared and collective faith of the semitic religions. The whole month of Muharram is highly regarded and revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews alike.
What is the etymology of ashure?
The word ashure is derived from the Arabic word Ashura which means ten or tenth. The tenth day of Muharram, the first month of Islamic calendar is known as ashura or yom ashura. For Turks, the first month of Islamic calendar is also known as Ashura instead of Muharram.
The word ashura also has a Persian link in which the root word ashur means porridge and in Turkish ash means mixed porridge. This popular Turkish dessert has an Armenian geotag with an interesting backstory that is always associated with the origin of the pudding.
What is the origin of ashure or Noah’s pudding?
Ashure is also known as Noah’s pudding. The Turkish legends say that this dish was made by prophet Noah himself when the ark landed on the mountains of Ararat in the Armenian highlands on the 10th day of Muharram.
Hence the name Noah’s pudding and ashure is one of the oldest desserts that exists in this world. According to the Turkish traditions, ashure is prepared on or after the tenth day of Muharram to give respect to Noah and his followers.
As the ark was stuck in the Biblical flood for days, the food supplies were getting scarce. To prevent people from starving, Noah made a mixed porridge with all the leftover ingredients in the ark and fed his people.
Ashure is a porridge “mixture” in a true sense. It has legumes, beans, fruits,nuts, pulses, dried fruits and what not. With a wide range of ingredients included, ashure becomes a wholesome, fulfilling and nutritious dish.
What are the variations of ashure?
The main ingredient that goes into ashure is wheat or barley grains. The remaining ingredients are added based on the regional specifics and availability. Mostly it contains fruits and nuts to enrich it. The only concern is to prep all the ingredients well before you make the ashure.
Planning is essential as the whole grains and nuts need to be soaked. Also, some say, to preserve the color of the dish, grains, nuts and fruits should be cooked separately and then finally mixed.
Noah’s pudding is a classic example that renunciates the fact that there is a similarity amongst religions and religious practices. Ashure is enjoyed by Muslims, Christians and Jews throughout the Middle East. Each religion has its own traditions and practices and their own story behind the preparation of this dish.
Armenians call this anush abur, which means sweet soup and it is their custom to prepare it during Christmas.
The Greeks call this koliva and make this during their new year. They also make koliva during the commemoration of the dead and distribute it in the cemetery. The difference between koliva and ashura is that koliva has lots of nuts instead of legumes.
While the Middle Easterners prepare ashure on the day of Ashura, South Asians have a practice of preparing khichra, a savory meat dish. It has the same ingredients that go in the Noah’s pudding along with meat and spices.
Since many observe fasting on the day of Ashura, it makes sense to have such a flavorful and nutritious packed dish to break the fast.
Ashure is more than a recipe in the Middle eastern society. It is the symbol of community and togetherness. It is also a symbol of generosity. Ashure is a dish you don’t enjoy by yourself rather share it with neighbors, friends and family.
Inevitably it is prepared in large pots and distributed amongst neighbors. According to Islamic scholars, 40 houses in each direction is comprises of a neighborhood. So enjoy the festive season with this epic dish and spreading joy to others!
- ½ cup whole grain wheat or pearled barley
- ⅓ cup chickpeas
- ⅓ cup dry white beans
- 2 oz. almonds
- 2 oz. dried apricots
- 3 cloves
- 1 apple
- 2 oz. raisins
- 2 oz. dried figs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup sugar (or ¼ cup / 80 g honey)
- Pomegranate seeds
- Grated coconut
- Blanched almonds
- Roasted hazelnuts
- Pistachio powder
- Dried figs
- The day before, wash and separately soak the whole grain wheat (or barley), chickpeas, and white beans in 3 times their volume of water for 12 hours.
- The next day, wash the raisins and boil for 3 minutes in a large amount of water. Drain.
- Wash the figs and boil them for 3 minutes in a large amount of water. Drain.
- Once the figs are cool, cut them into small cubes.
- Wash the apricots and immerse them in water at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drain the apricots and reserve their soaking water. Cut them into small dice.
- Place the almonds in a bowl filled with boiling water for 15 minutes. Peel them and reserve them.
- Pierce the apple with cloves.
- Fill 2 pots with water and cook the chickpeas and white beans separately according to instructions on the package.
In a large pot, immerse the whole grain wheat (or barley) in 6 cups (1 liter) of water and cook according to the package instructions. Add water if necessary.
- Halfway through cooking the wheat, add the apple pierced with cloves, and the cinnamon stick.
- Continue cooking until the wheat is very tender, almost like porridge.
- Once the chickpeas are cooked, remove their skin.
Toward the end of cooking the wheat, remove the apple and add the chickpeas, white beans, almonds, raisins, dried apricots and their reserved soaking water, salt, sugar (or honey) and milk.
- Mix well and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- At the end of the cooking, add the diced figs.
- Transfer the pudding into cups.
- Cool down and top with the garnishing ingredients.
- Refrigerate to serve cold, or cool down to room temperature to serve lukewarm.