This delicious dessert of grains, pulses and dried fruit, referred as Asure or Ashura – Noah’s Dessert-, is most probably one of Turkey’s most famous dessert. According to the legend, Noah made it on the Ark by combining whatever ingredients were left on the ark. It is also the traditional dessert to serve on the 10th day of the Muslim month Muharrem, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Asure is always made in large quantities and shared with friends and neighbors.
Though the ingredients list is pretty rich, I believe whatever grains, pulses and dried fruit you have in your pantry will do. And if you are short of time, why not using good quality pre-cooked chickpeas and beans in cans; I am all up for it if it helps making this wonderful dessert. Adding the pomegranate seeds over the top give a festive touch and make the dessert refreshing too.
Desserts play an important role in Turkish culture and the centre piece at religious festivals, weddings and family celebrations. A wide variety of sweet treats from baklava to fruit based desserts are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table. You can order a signed copy at this link, if you’d like.
This recipe is a slight adaptation from dear Ghillie Basan’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking; one of my favorite authors.
Serves 10 – 12
50gr/2oz haricot (navy) beans, soaked overnight (or at least for 6 hours) and drained
50gr/2oz skinned broad (fava) beans soaked overnight (or at least for 6 hours) and drained
50gr/2oz chickpeas (garbanzo beans) soaked overnight (or at least for 6 hours) and drained
115gr/4oz pot barley, with husks removed, and soaked overnight in plenty of water
50gr/2oz rice, washed and drained
115gr/4oz dried apricots
30ml/2 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch) or rice flour
150ml /1/4 pint rose water
2 teaspoons/10 ml cinnamon
4-5 dried figs, sliced
4-5 dried apricots, sliced
15 ml/1 tablespoon sultanas
30 ml/2 tablespoon crushed walnuts
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
Cook the beans in separate pans of fresh water until just tender. The haricot beans will require about 50 minutes; the broad beans and chickpeas about 1 hour.
Transfer the barley and its soaking water to a large, deep pan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender, topping up with the water during the cooking time if necessary.
Add the cooked beans, chickpeas and the rice, and bring the liquid to boil again. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place all the dried fruit in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes, then drain. Add the fruit to the pan with the beans and stir in the sugar. Continue to simmer, stirring from time to time, until the mixture thickens.
Mix the corn flour or rice flour with a little water to form a creamy paste. Add 30ml/2tbsp of the hot liquid from the pan to the paste and add it to the pan, stirring constantly. Add the rose water and continue to simmer the mixture for another 15 minutes, stirring from to time, until the mixture is very thick.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Shake the bowl to make sure the surface is flat and leave the pudding to cool. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the pudding and arrange the sliced dried figs, apricots, sultanas and walnuts over the top. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over generously. Serve chilled or at room temperature.