Nothing beats a dessert after a hearty meal. Or maybe you just have a sweet tooth? Either way the love for all things sweet has been around for centuries, nay millennia, so here let’s have a look at a simple pudding that conquered the hearts of early Turks.
What is harire?
Harire is a pudding made out of pekmez – a kind of molasses usually made out of grape juice – flour, a bit of water and cinnamon. After they are cooked together, it is cooled off and consumed by dusting it with cinnamon.
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When looking at harire, we need to have a look at pekmez itself. This kind of grape molasses was a crucial foodstuff for people that were on the move, namely the nomadic Turks. They had their preserved foods aplenty, such as kavurma and kurut. (1) These nomadic Turks kept their traditions alive even when they formed the Seljuk empire and have survived to this day. (2) Naturally pekmez was consumed in many ways. Sometimes it was just mixed with a bit of water for a quick sweet drink, sometimes just pure as an energy tonic, thanks to its iron content. (3)
The making of pekmez and the cooking of harire are very close to each other, and probably came about during the long cooking time of the pekmez itself. First, grapes are squished to release all their juice, which are then boiled with high-lime-content soil, to separate the particles from the juice. This mix is left to rest, so that the particles can sink to the bottom. The cleared juice is then cooked down to a syrup-like consistency, which takes quite a while. (3) During this process when it is close to a syrup consistency, some is taken aside to make it even thicker with flour and when done right it will create the silky texture of the pudding. (4)
Written mentions of this pudding were naturally in the Ottoman records as well, with one of the earliest dating back to the 18th century. (5) In the first Turkish published cookbook named “Melceü’t Tabbahin” (Cook’s Refuge) there was a harire recipe but it was made out of almonds and consumed warm, almost like a sweet drink or soup. (6) It is not surprising that the original harire recipe changed considering the thriving Ottoman cuisine and the encouragement to come up with new recipes.
The harire in its original form has survived to this day in the southeastern province Mardin, like so many other centuries-old recipes it seems like the region has a knack for preserving them, despite the lack of written recipes.
The word harire comes from the Arabic “hariri” (حريري) meaning “like silk”, referring to the texture of the dish.
Harire: Rich, silky pudding
- 200 ml pekmez
- 120 gr flour
- 400 ml water
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- All the ingredients aside from the cinnamon are added to a pot and while constantly stirring, it is cooked until it becomes thicker.
- The cinnamon is added at this point and continue to simmer the pudding for another 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the harire into small bowls and let it cool off.
- Once it has achieved room temperature, store in a fridge until properly cool.
- When serving, dust with a bit of cinnamon, if you so desire.