Kavut: Forefather of halva as a breakfast dish

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WHAT'S SPECIAL

Breakfast is said to be the most important dish of the day. However true or false this statement is is up for debate but one thing is for sure: The breakfast variety presented in Turkey’s eastern province Van is breathtaking. From different kinds of cheeses such as the renowned “otlu peynir” to “murtuğa” you find unique things all around. And one of those unique tastes is the Kavut.

What is Kavut?

Kavut is a dish made from melted butter and a special kind of flour roasted together. If so desired molasses or honey is added when served, additional nuts or alike are optional but usually present.

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The origin

In the archeological digs in the area, they did not expect to find food. But that’s precisely what they found. The Kavut that is cooked to this day can be traced back to the region roughly 3,000 years to the Iron Age, to the kingdom of Urartu. Of course, this dig and research wasn’t the product of a short time, the overall studies took more than 40 years. In this research they found that the Urartu stored their lentils, wheat and chickpeas in depos under their castles and left traces of Kavut.

Naturally you can trace the dish back throughout history. Şeref Han mentioned the dish in his writings in the late 16th century and of course Evliya Çelebi was around for a taste as well in his Travelogue “Seyahatname” in the 17th century. He described the dish “gavut”, also known as “poksin” or “pohin” at the time, as “made from milk, millet and butter, is very delicious and is served to almost every guest”.

There even used to be a version of this dish that included apples but throughout history that certain kind of apple was no longer able to be cultivated in the region and thus no longer made.

The dish might be associated with the Van province but is prevalent in the southeastern-eastern region of Turkey and its neighbors. The Governate of Van applied to register the dish as a specialty in 2017 and got listed in Turkey’s Patent and Trademark Office the following year.

Etymology

The word Kavut comes from the Turkish “kavurmak”, meaning to “roast”. As a dish one of the first written mentions was found in the 11th century dictionary “Diwan Lughat al-Turk” as “kagut”. The old version of “kavurmak” is “kagurmak” making the transition direct.

Kavut: Forefather of halva as a breakfast dish

The problem with this dish is finding the special flour mentioned above. The wheat is soaked in milk for 12 hours and then dried out in the open air, but in the shade. Then it is ground to flour. The flour is known under the same name as the dish “Kavut” and can be ordered online. Some call the flour “kavurga” as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp kavut flour
  • 2 tsp molasses or honey

Instructions

  • Melt the butter and get it to slightly brown.
  • Add the kavut and roast them together for 5-10 minutes.
  • If it is getting very thick you can add a bit more butter or oil.
  • If it is very soupy you can add a bit more kavut to balance it out.
  • Turn off the heat and serve by sprinkling either molasses or honey over it.
  • Serving both hot and cold is an option and entirely depends on your taste.
  • Adding crushed walnuts on top is another desirable edition to the dish.
  • It is usually eaten with a few slices of bread.
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