I know that I talk about Turkish Coffee and Turkish Tea all the time, but have you heard of these other fun drinks from Turkey?
I grew up with drinking Ayran in the Summer, Raki brings back memories of dinners by the seaside of lots of grilled fish and calamari, but I have to say I have never been brave enough to try Salgam Suyu (Shal-gahm Soo-Yoo). I thought it would be fun to add the recipes to this blog for you to experiment with..let me know how the turnip juice came out..maybe..just maybe, I might try it..you go first!
My favorite summer drink is Ayran, a salty-is yogurt drink. Over in Turkey, most of the time Ayran is served next to Lahmacun, or spicy turkish flatbread pizza. If the pizza is espeically hot, the yogurt cools the palate as you move thru your meal. Nowadays, you can find Ayran already bottled in the refrigerator section of Middle Eastern Markets.
When I do my shopping, the owner of the market always knows to keep the small bottle of Ayran out for me to drink on the way home! I prefer mine plain, but many also like to add some mint to really refresh on a hot day! If you want to try it at home, follow the simple steps below:
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1/2 cup cold water, or as needed
Raki is the national drink of Turkey and made of twice-distilled grapes and aniseed. Similar in flavor to Ouzo in greece, but a little lighter and more frequently mixed with ice and water rather than just drinking straight from the glass like Ouzo.
I remember growing up watching my grandmother order Raki out at a fish restaurant. She would always hold up 2 fingers and ask for a separate glass for water. She enjoyed her raki on ice. Taking a sip of ice cold Raki, she would chase it with a sip of water separately.
There is a specific shape for Raki glasses, tall and straight. One finger high or two means how much Raki you want in the glass before the waiter will drop in rounded ice cubes and water. If you are just starting out with Raki, it is suggested that you start slow, with one finger height of Raki in your glass.
When Raki comes out at dinner, understand that conversation will be flowing as free and frequent as the drinks. Dinner will be long and boisterous! As a child, it was always entertaining to watch the adults during a family dinner over Raki, Meze and fish. As the saying goes: “Rakı is the answer, but I can’t remember the question!”
Salgam Suyu “turnip juice” always triggers a funny story mom used to tell me every time we would see a turnip juice vender around the city. Back in the late ’60’s when mom moved down to south eastern Turkey to marry my dad, she worked on the Incirlik American Airforce base. One day as she was walking to the base, she saw some other american familys and their kids taking in all the sites, especially the traidtionally garbed Turnip juice vender and the fancy way he would serve the juice. Each time an american kid would see the vender serve up a red drink to somone, she would hear the child exclaim to their mom: “Look Mom! They have Hawaiian Punch here! Can I have some too!?” Mom never stuck around to see the kids faces when they finally had a sip of a not so sweet juice!
Recipe to make at home:
- 1 large turnip
- 1 large beet
- 2 pounds carrots
- Juice of 2 lemons (or 1 1/2 tsp. crystal citric acid)
- 1/3 cup pickling salt
- 1/2 loaf of bread (Italian)
- 5 cups purified water
Wearing rubber gloves, peel the turnip and beet and slice them. Peel the carrots and divide them into fours.
Wrap the half a loaf of bread in the cheesecloth and tie off the end to make a ‘hobo sack.’ Put the sack inside the glass jar. Add the sliced vegetables and all the other ingredients except the salt.
In a separate container, mix the salt with about 3 cups of purified water to dissolve it, then pour it into the jar. Add more water if needed to fill the jar to the top with liquid, ensuring that all vegetables are completely covered in liquid. This is key to ensuring a safe environment for the vegetables to ferment. Close the lid tightly.
Set the jar aside in a cool place to ferment for 15 days. Don’t attempt to open the jar before 15 days pass.
After 15 days, open the jar and remove the cheesecloth and bread. The bread has acted as the fermenting agent. Like all fermented items, particularly turnips, the aroma may be pungent. This is normal, and a sign of good fermentation. Once you chill it, your ‘şalgam’ juice is ready to drink. You can serve the now pickled vegetables alongside to munch on.