I was exposed to trahana on my recent trip to the Caucasus: a sour bulgur. “Sour, how?” you may ask. The grain is steeped in buttermilk and then dehydrated (traditionally, sun dried). I believe there are many Grecian pasta versions with similar name, and, even Lebanese (kishk). As soon as I was back to base, the grain was mail-ordered, which promptly arrived from Turkey.
I experimented with a simple, no-fuss, savory porridge. I discovered that olives and trahana is a marriage made in heaven! Was it my Asian taste-buds? I don’t know; I grew up on neither olives nor trahana. This is certainly worth a try. Enjoy!
- 1/2 cup trahana
- a dozen shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thinly sliced and dry roasted in wok for 2-3 minutes
- 1 tbsp (store-bought) olive tapenade
- 1/6 cup diced shallots/Spanish red onions
- crushed red pepper
- Greens: 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
In a wok, soften the onions with a little oil from the tapenade jar (or just use a little olive oil). Add the tapenade and the trahana and stir till well mixed. Add 1 1/2 cups hot water, salt to taste and cover. Cook on low-medium for 20 minutes till the water is absorbed. Let rest for 5 mins (the grains will absorb some more moisture). Mix in the mushrooms and greens.
Serve hot with a dash of crushed red pepper and some tapenade.
Notes, hints, tips:
- Note that there is a sweet version of (Turkish) trahana too. Make sure that for this dish, you are using the savory (sour) version.
- I use shiitake for some texture and earthiness. I used the stems of the shiitake to make the broth to cook the grains: rough-chop the stems and throw them into the heating water. In fact, I did not even filter out the stems when using the broth/hot water to cook the grains.
- You can add other veggies of your choice for texture, color, taste. To retain their identity and character, I recommend folding them in at the end, rather than cooking together with the grain.
- The wide mouth of the wok helps in cooking the grain effortlessly, without stirring frequently etc.
- I tried a thinly shaved cheese (Manchego) topping that went well too. Perhaps not as magical as the olive tapenade.
- The trahana becomes naturally creamy. You can control the final texture by controlling the level of moisture that remains in the end.