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Asura: The Rich and Flavorful Turkish Dessert that is Made with Grains, Pulses, and Nuts


Asura Turkiye: A Celebration of Diversity and Friendship




Asura, also known as Noah's Dessert or Ashura, is one of the most popular desserts in Turkish cuisine. It is a rich and delicious pudding made with grains, pulses, dried fruits, and nuts. It is not only a dessert, but also a symbol of diversity and friendship in Turkish culture. Asura is traditionally served on the 10th day of Muharram Month, which is the first month of the Islamic calendar. On this day, people make large batches of Asura and share it with their neighbors, friends, and relatives, regardless of their religious or ethnic backgrounds. In this article, we will explore the origin, meaning, ingredients, preparation, celebration, and variations of Asura in Turkiye.


What is Asura?




The origin and meaning of Asura




Asura has a long and rich history that dates back to ancient times. According to one legend, Asura was first made by Noah and his companions on the ark. When the food supplies started to run low, Noah decided to put all the remaining food stocks into one pot and cook it. The result was a nutritious and tasty pudding that kept everyone well-fed until the ark reached Mount Ararat in eastern Turkiye.




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According to another legend, Asura was first made by Prophet Muhammad and his followers during their journey to Medina. They saw a group of Jewish people fasting on the 10th day of Muharram Month to commemorate the day when Moses saved them from the Egyptians. Prophet Muhammad thought that Muslims should do the same because Moses was also a prophet in Islam. He declared that Muslims should fast on this day and make a pudding with whatever they had. He named it Asura, which means "the tenth" in Arabic.


Asura is also associated with Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, who was martyred on the 10th day of Muharram Month in Karbala. His followers mourn his death by fasting, praying, and making Asura as a sign of solidarity and compassion.


Asura has different meanings for different people, but it generally represents peace, unity, gratitude, generosity, and hope.


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The ingredients and preparation of Asura




Asura is an ingredient-rich dessert that can vary depending on the region, family, or personal preference. However, some common ingredients are hulled barley (husked removed barley), white rice, chickpeas, navy beans, sugar, rose water (optional), cinnamon, pistachio nuts, pine nuts, currant, dried apricots, dried figs, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds.


The preparation of Asura is simple but time-consuming. The hulled barley needs to be soaked overnight in plenty of water. Then it is cooked in a large pot with its soaking water until tender. The rice, chickpeas, navy beans, sugar, and rose water are added to the pot and cooked until soft. The pudding is then poured into a large tray or bowl and garnished with cinnamon, nuts, dried fruits, and pomegranate seeds.


Asura can be served hot or cold. It can be eaten as a dessert or as a snack. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.


How is Asura celebrated in Turkiye?




The significance of Muharram Month




Muharram Month is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is considered a sacred month for Muslims because it marks the beginning of a new year and many important events in Islamic history. For example,


The tradition of sharing Asura with neighbors and friends




One of the most beautiful aspects of Asura is the tradition of sharing it with others. It is said that Asura should be made with at least ten ingredients and shared with at least ten people. This reflects the values of generosity, hospitality, and friendship in Turkish culture. People usually prepare large pots of Asura and distribute it to their neighbors, friends, relatives, and even strangers. They also invite people to their homes or mosques to enjoy Asura together. Some people also donate Asura to the poor or to charitable organizations. Sharing Asura is a way of expressing gratitude to God for His blessings and asking for His forgiveness and mercy.


The cultural and religious diversity of Asura celebrants




Asura is a dessert that transcends religious and ethnic boundaries. It is celebrated by Muslims, Christians, Jews, Alevis, Kurds, Turks, Arabs, and many other groups in Turkiye. Each group has its own interpretation and significance of Asura, but they all share a common respect and appreciation for this dessert. Asura is a symbol of diversity and harmony in Turkiye. It shows that people can coexist peacefully and celebrate their differences with joy and love.


Where to find and taste Asura in Turkiye?




The best pastry shops and restaurants that offer Asura




If you want to taste Asura in Turkiye, you have many options to choose from. You can find Asura in most pastry shops, bakeries, restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets during Muharram Month. Some of the most famous places that offer Asura are:


  • Karaköy Güllüoğlu: This is one of the oldest and most renowned baklava shops in Istanbul. It also makes delicious Asura with 41 ingredients, including saffron, ginger, cardamom, clove, nutmeg, and mastic.



  • Hacı Abdullah: This is a historic restaurant in Beyoğlu district that serves traditional Ottoman cuisine. It also makes Asura with 25 ingredients, including almond milk, coconut, orange peel, and lemon juice.



  • Asurevi: This is a special shop that only sells Asura in Kadıköy district. It makes Asura with 15 ingredients, including quince, apple, pear, grape molasses, and sesame seeds.



  • Asure House: This is another shop that specializes in Asura in Fatih district. It makes Asura with 12 ingredients, including corn flour, honey, vanilla, and rose water.



The regional variations and specialties of Asura




Asura can also vary depending on the region or the city in Turkiye. Some of the regional variations and specialties of Asura are:


  • Gaziantep: This city is famous for its pistachios, which are used generously in its Asura. It also adds dried mulberries, cherries, plums, and apricots to its Asura.



  • Konya: This city is known for its Mevlana Museum and Whirling Dervishes. It also makes a special Asura with chickpeas, beans, lentils, wheat berries, rice flour, sugar beet molasses, butter, and cream.



  • Van: This city is located near Lake Van and Mount Ararat. It also makes a unique Asura with cracked wheat (bulgur), walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, raisins, dried figs, apricots, dates, sugar beet molasses (pekmez), butter (tarex), milk (süt), water (su), salt (tuz), cinnamon (tarçın), clove (karanfil), cardamom (kakule), nutmeg (ceviz) ,and saffron (safran).



istan cevizi), sesame seeds (susam), and cinnamon (tarçın).


Conclusion




Asura is more than just a dessert. It is a celebration of diversity and friendship in Turkiye. It is a way of honoring the past, appreciating the present, and hoping for the future. It is a delicious and nutritious pudding that can be enjoyed by anyone, anytime, anywhere. If you ever visit Turkiye, don't miss the chance to taste Asura and share it with others. You will be amazed by its flavor and its meaning.


FAQs




What is the difference between Asura and Noah's Pudding?




Asura and Noah's Pudding are two names for the same dessert. Asura is the Arabic name, while Noah's Pudding is the English name. They both refer to the legend of Noah making a pudding with the remaining food on the ark.


Is Asura vegan?




Asura is usually vegan, as it does not contain any animal products. However, some people may add milk, butter, or cream to their Asura, so it is always better to check the ingredients before eating.


How many calories are in Asura?




Asura is a high-calorie dessert, as it contains a lot of sugar, grains, pulses, nuts, and dried fruits. One serving of Asura (about 100 grams) can have around 300 calories. However, Asura is also rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so it can be considered a healthy dessert if eaten in moderation.


Can I make Asura at home?




Yes, you can make Asura at home with simple ingredients and tools. You just need a large pot, a tray or a bowl, a spoon, and a knife. You can find the recipe for Asura online or in Turkish cookbooks. You can also customize your Asura with your favorite ingredients and toppings.


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