A rich, comforting porridge-like desert full of a variety of beans and pulses with tones of Mahlep, cinnamon and cloves and a zesty kick brought together in (an optional) saffron-infused milk. The traditional dessert does require a little preparation in advance and some tender care during the making but is well worth the effort. Often made in bulk and shared and exchanged with neighbours and friends.
How To Make Aşure - Noah's Pudding, For a dish so old, it's not surprising that there are so many different recipes and variations.
Of course for a pudding so steeped in history, there can be no such thing as the perfect Aşure recipe. How each person enjoys and makes their Noahs dessert comes down to personal preference and with experience – a little experimentation here and there and lots of analysis and observation of how others make theirs. Tasting the good, the bad and the ugly is the only way to find your perfect dish indeed. In fact, it would certainly be fair to say the proof is in the Noah's pudding.
I favour subtle background tastes of spices & citrus peel, and I like to add saffron-infused milk in the last 10 minutes of cooking; an idea I picked up from both Zerde – A beautiful yellow milky rice pudding and from a variation of the dish called Tekke Aşure. (Dervish Lodge Pudding).
This unusual addition imparts some gentle flavourings but also keeps the pudding looking a little livelier. I learnt early on in my experimenting that while cooking if you throw into the pot the darker dried fruits and nuts, it can take on tones more aligned to dishwater than a delightful dish. For this purpose too, I also save the figs and walnuts for the dressing.
Ingredients for making Aşure.
- Two cups peeled wheat grains (Aşurelik buğday)*
- One cup chickpeas (Nohut)
- 2/3rd cup white beans (Kuru Fasulye)
- ½ cup split dried fava beans (Kuru Bakla)
- ½ cup broken (Kırık) or Baldo rice
- Peel of 1 lemon or orange (Remove the white pith with a sharp knife) or zest if easier.
- Two Teaspoons ground mahlep
- Six cloves
- Two cinnamon sticks
- Three cups sugar
- 1.5 cups chopped dried apricots
- One glass golden sultanas
- ½ cup of hazelnuts (I like to toast them whole then half)
- One cup milk (Whole or semi) *Optional
- One pinch of saffron strands * Optional
- For garnish:
- ½ - ¾ cups chopped or sliced figs
- Handful of chopped walnuts and/or almonds and/or hazelnuts as you wish
- Sesame seeds
- Pomegranate seeds if in season
- Ground Nutmeg or Cinnamon for sprinkling
How To Make Noah's Pudding
One night before cooking wash and then place the beans & grains in separate bowls and soak overnight.
Drain and rinse the white beans and place in a medium-sized saucepan with fresh water, cover again leaving the lid to this saucepan also ajar and bring to the boil before reducing to simmer for around 1 hour. Remove any foam that arises when cooking.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place in a medium saucepan with enough fresh water to cover and then place on the lid but use a wooden spoon or lid holder to enable it to stay ajar.
With the saucepan on the medium ring, bring the water to boil before reducing to simmer for around 50 minutes removing any foam that arises when cooking.
Once cooked, drain both saucepans and place to beans and chickpeas the side for later.
Drain and rinse the wheat and place into a large saucepan with around double the volume in water.
Add in the mahlep, cinnamon sticks and cloves and bring to the boil while stirring.
Reduce to simmer and stirring at regular intervals cook for one hour.
At any point, if the water level starts to get low top up again with hot water. It is likely to need at least more water once or twice during the cooking time.
After the 1 hour simmer add to the wheat the previously cooked chickpeas and beans and simmer for a further around 30 -40 minutes.
(While the wheat-beans-chickpeas are simmering)
In a small saucepan or cezve heat, the milk and saffron threads (If using) heat to hot but do not boil.
Remove from the heat and leave the saffron to steep in the milk for 30 minutes.
Wash the apricots and sultanas several times.
Add them into the saucepan along with the sugar, fava beans, rice and hazelnuts.
Stirring frequently, continue to cook on simmer for a further 30 minutes.
Using a small sieve drain the milk from the saffron threads into the pudding saucepan and continue to stir for around ten minutes.
Remove the pudding from the heat and allow it to cool.
Divide into serving bowls/portions
Decorate with the garnishing ingredients.
Notes On making Aşure - Noah's pudding.
- What is Aşurelik buğday? - Translated as peeled or cracked wheat it the whole wheat kernel with the bran rubbed off it. If you can't find peeled wheat you can substitute pearl barley.
- If you don't have dried ingredient in or would like to speed up the making you can use tinned versions of the chickpeas and white beans but as you need to soak the wheat from the night before you may as well save those pennies.
- The chickpeas and beans can be cooked together in a large saucepan if you prefer but I believe the key to a great asure is to be able to get a bite of all the different pulses and to swap out the water for each of them.
- The volume of sugar can be reduced or completely removed should you wish.
- If you Noah's pudding feels too watery when everything is cooked mix together a teaspoon of cornstarch with a little cold water in a glass and mix until all the lumps have gone. Add this to the ashura and stir over the heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat once more if very very watery.
- Dark fruits such as figs and raisins or sulphur-free apricots can cause the dessert to take on a dark murky colour to avoid this add them at the last moments or as a topping.
- Look out for dried fruits especially pre-cut ones that have been coated in, this can cause your asure to thicken too much. To prevent it pre-soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes are add more water to the pot.
- Citrus fruit rind offers a refreshing hit in the Asure dessert, I favour orange if I can get it but it's not always in season. Alternatively rose water is a very popular addition.