Yogurt is an incredibly important part of Turkish culture and Ayran, described a few years ago by the country’s President, Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan, as Turkey’s national drink, is certainly the healthiest soft beverages, especially when compared with the chemical filled commercial alternatives.
Available in virtually every corner shop, restaurant, cafe and fast food joint in the Turkey, ayran may seem a rather unusual taste for those not used to it but served chilled it’s refreshing, nourishing and healthy, so it’s well worth developing a taste for it if you haven’t tried it already.
Made with nothing more than strained (suzme) yogurt, chilled water and a pinch of salt, our favourite versions of ayran are homemade and the kind you can buy in some traditional restaurants, which is covered in a head of creamy foam and served in copper mugs.
A long and curious history
Some say that the yogurt based drink, ayran, has been made for thousands of years and was originally made by Göktürks (Celestial Turks) and certainly nomadic Turks, Yörük, have been making and drinking it for more than a millennium.
Whether or not it was made to use up slightly sour yogurt or just because it is delicious, is a matter of debate; however, during the hot summer months, this slightly salty drink is considered by most Turks as the best way to rehydrate.
There are different kinds of yogurt drinks across the middle east and east, ranging from ayran in Turkey to lassi in India. Iran, for example, has an interesting variation called doogh, sometimes made with fizzy water and flavored with mint.
There are reports saying that sales of ayran are declining but we really can’t understand why… We think it’s one of the best drinks around. It even has its own website!