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Thursday, December 8, 2011


Ashura Porridge
Khichda: Dongri, Mumbai, December 2010
Day of Ashura or Ashurah. This was celebrated a few days before Ramadan, during Muharram, the 10th month, commemorating the martyrdom of al-Husayn, a son of Ali and Fatima, grandson of the Prophet, and to remind Muslims of the sacrifices of the Prophet’s family. In 2011 it was celebrated on December 5th. In 2012 it will be on November 24th and in 2013 on November 13th. Originally, it was a Jewish celebration marking the rescue of Moses from the Pharaoh during which Jews fast. The Sunni’s celebrate for day for the deliverance of Moses connection.  Certain nights of the month, Muslim families donate food and Middle Eastern sweets to their mosques. As they are consecrated in the name of Husayn, these meals are thought to be special and holy. Partaking of them is considered an act of communion with God, Hussain and humanity. Traditional dishes consist of couscous made with dried tail of the Eid el Kbir ram (the ram sacrificed on Haij, the holiday at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca). In Morocco, “kurdas,” sun dried meat, is added. Kurdas consists of liver, fat and several spices, which are wrapped around the stomach of a lamb and tied tightly with small intestines and left in the sun to dry. Ashur pudding, reportedly the oldest dessert in the world, is another favorite.  

At the end of Noah’s journey there was not much food left on the Ark. As a result, he put together what was left, various nuts, grains and dried fruit with which he made a pudding. This sustained him and his mates until the end of the trip. The pudding is known as Ashura Pudding.

In Turkey, traditionally Ashura dishes are shared with friends and neighbors in a radius of 40 houses, thus large caldrons are appropriate for those who plan on sharing the Muslim way. Being such a popular dish there are thousands of variations. Some use barley instead of wheat others add walnuts and dried figs to darken the color. Some do not add dried fruit or nuts. Traditionally, it is decorated with pomegranate seeds. No matter what the recipe it is a low-fat, nutritious pudding, which can be eaten for breakfast, as a dessert or as a snack. [Benavides-Barajas. Alhambra. 1999:54; Donzel. 1994:37-138; and ES: “Ashur.” Apr 8, 03]

(For the family, not the whole neighborhood - so she says -)

Day of Ashura
from NuraNAlbayraK

1 ½ c wheat
½ c rice
¼ c chickpeas
¾ c walnuts
4 qts water
zest from ½ orange
2 ½ c sugar
1 c blanched and chopped almonds
1 c golden raisins
12 hazelnuts
½ c diced dried apricots
¼ c diced dried figs
1/3 c rosewater
1 c pomegranate seeds


Aşhura Pudding
Photo by: rumma.org
The morning prior to making this recipe put the wheat in water to soak. In the evening, drain it and put the wheat in a heavy pot. Cover it with water, bring it to a boil, reduce heat and boil gently 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and wrap the pot in towels and let set. 

In the evening before making the pudding, soak the rice, chickpeas, white beans and walnuts separately covered with water overnight. Drain and chop the walnuts coarsely. Drain the chickpeas and white beans; place them in separate pans, cover with water and boil until almost tender. Drain and remove the skins. Set aside. Meanwhile, combine the drained wheat and rice in a big, heavy pot with 4 qts of water and orange zest cut into thin slices. Cook until the wheat is tender. Add the cooked chickpeas and beans and cook together for another half an hour. Add sugar, mix and cook for 10 minutes. Add the diced fruit, nuts and the rosewater, stir well and remove the pot from heat. 

Pour the pudding into serving bowls and refrigerate for several hours. Decorate with pomegranate seeds. Ideally, the dessert should have the consistency of pudding. Rice flour can be added to correct consistency if needed.

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