Gömbe Tarhana

Miscellaneous - Turkey

Tarhana, a product made from dried grains, vegetables and yogurt or milk, is the first “instant soup” ever. It is said that the name comes from the phrase dar hane meaning “poor peasant,” as, according to legend, it was the only dish a poor peasant wife could quickly prepare as an offering to a visiting sultan. It was invented by the Central Asian Turks as a way to be able to consume yogurt in every season, and over time it spread to the neighboring Balkans. It is often served to weaning babies. Local producers have a ritual while placing tarhana in cotton sacks for storage in which they say: “Thanks God for this abundance. This part is for God, this part is for my guests, this part is for my neighbors and this part is to share in family.” The preparation method for gömbe tarhana is unchanged for over a hundred years. Gömbe tarhana is made with local products such as homemade sheep’s milk yogurt, homemade red pepper paste, local vegetables, olive oil and butter. To prepare this tarhana, onions are roasted in olive oil and butter. Chopped peppers and tomatoes, along with more butter are added to the mixture, followed by crushed wheat, salt and spices (typically basil, parsley, mint and oregano). A cloth is sprinkled with bran and then the tarhana is spread in a layer over the cloth. Once cool, yogurt is added and kneaded in until forming dense dough. This dough is stored in a pot for one week until dry. For the first day it is stored under the sun, and in the shade for the following six days. Once dried, it is rubbed by hand to break it down intow a powder that can be kept until wintertime. It is prepared as a soup topped with brown butter for final consumption, mixed with water, chickpeas, lentils and other vegetables and spices.   Gömbe tarhana is prepared with the same method in each village in the province of Kaş, in southeastern Turkey, although drying time may vary depending on the location of villages. Area hoseholds produce about 9-10 kg of gömbe tarhana annually. In general, total production is about 3.5-4 tons in a season. Producers make it for their own family, but some producers from village are selling their excess product at the village markets once a week. Younger generations do not want to prepare tarhana, though, because it is time consuming, and those who have moved to cities lack the facilities for home production. Today’s fast paced lifestyles cause customers to buy industrially-produced tarhana soup mix from supermarkets, and so the traditional production method of gömbe tarhana is at risk of being lost.