If you like discovering new exotic, refreshing drinks that seem unusual but are actually quite tasty and healthy, this post is for you. In this post, we’ll introduce you to our traditional ayran recipe and teach you everything you need to know about this tasty and refreshing Turkish drink and its benefits.
What is Ayran?
Ayran is a Turkish dairy drink that consists of salty yogurt frothed up to perfection. The traditional ayran recipe is quite simple, requires only 3 ingredients (yogurt, water, and salt), and can be done in only a few minutes. Most non-Turkish people consider ayran to be a summer drink because it’s refreshing and savory but most locals know that ayran is not a seasonal drink. People in all Turkic countries (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan) as well as the Middle East and the Balkan drink ayran throughout the year.
It’s served for both, breakfast and dinner (even though having it for lunch is not uncommon either), and alongside some of the most popular Turkish dishes like menemen, borek, simit, cilbir, cacik, etc. In other words, the traditional ayran recipe goes well with most Mediterranean dishes, is great for hydration, and drinking it comes with a lot of health benefits (more about this below).
The traditional Ayran recipe originates from Turkey but it has been developed as a variant of doogh; a cold savory yogurt-based beverage that was consumed in ancient Persia. Today, ayran (or doogh) is widely consumed not only in Turkey and Iran but also in most Middle-Eastern countries, the Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia), and even some Slavic countries. The main difference between doogh and ayran is the texture- ayran is always slightly thicker than doogh.
In regards to the origin of the name, both words, ‘doogh’ and ‘ayran’ translate to milking (dooshidan in Persian) and a milk-based drink (ajran in Proto-Turkish). Doogh is first mentioned more than 2,000 years ago during the era of the mighty Persian empire while the traditional ayran recipe is first mentioned around 1000 CE as a milk-based drink consumed by the Turkic people of Central Asia.
Health Benefits Of Drinking Ayran
As we mentioned above, ayran is great for hydration and there are a handful of health benefits of drinking ayran.
It’s Perfect For Hot Weather
Summers in Turkey, especially in the south often reach temperatures in the 40s and high humidity is also not uncommon. This is one of the main reasons why ayran became so popular and is still widely consumed even today. Its unique medical properties help to cool down an over-heated body while the salt used in the preparation replenishes the salt lost due to uncontrollable sweating.
It’s Good For Your Stomach
First and foremost, a lot of tourists develop the notorious Turkey Trots when experiencing Turkish food for the first time. If this happens, nothing can help stabilize your stomach like ayran. Not only is ayran rich in bacterial enzymes that can help stabilize your stomach but it also helps restore the salts you’d lose during this unpleasant experience. But that’s not all. Ayran is also perfect for hangovers. So, if you end up partying more than you should have, you know what you have to do.
Perfect For Athletes
If you like working out, hiking, cycling, or trekking, ayran is always a great replenishment after a hard work out or a long day of hiking. According to the NHS, one of the best ways to help your body recover quickly after strenuous efforts is to consume dairy drinks and ayran is perfect because it’s rich in salt, has high quantities of calcium and proteins and takes away the immediate hunger pangs after a workout.
Ayran For Weight loss?
There are a lot of articles that claim ayran is great for weight loss. We’re not experts in this but having all of its other medical properties in mind, we believe it’s safe to assume that ayran is a lot healthier and better for your body than drinks sweetened with a ridiculous amount of sugar and other artificial sweeteners. Ayran contains close to 0 sugar and it’s relatively easy to see how it could help people lose weight.
This is not necessarily a health benefit but it’s always great when you can have something healthy for such a cheap price. Ayran requires only 3 ingredients and anyone can make it. And even if you’re too lazy to make it by yourself, you can buy it at the supermarket for a relatively cheap price.
The traditional ayran recipe consists of the three main ingredients we mentioned above but there are some local variations. For example, in some parts of Turkey, people add black pepper to the mix, others add mint or pennyroyal, and even diced or crushed cucumbers or thyme for some extra flavors.
These are the most common variations but I have seen a lot of people mixing up ayran with doogh, kefir, and even Lassi. This next section will help you distinguish the main differences.
Difference Between Ayran And Kefir
Kefir is made of milk, ayran is made of yogurt. Kefir is usually slightly sweet and not for everyone’s taste, while ayran is salty and refreshing.
Difference Between Ayran And Doogh
The main difference between ayran and doogh is the texture- ayran is always slightly thicker than doogh.
Difference Between Ayran And Lassi
As you probably know, lassi comes in two varieties- sweet and salty. Both varieties use yogurt and water as the main ingredients. The salty lassi is basically the Indian version of ayran (the preparation method is almost the same) while the sweet lassi has a lot of sugar and is a completely different drink.
How To Serve Ayran?
Ayran is traditionally served in Turkish authentic metal glasses (locals say it preserves the flavor). You can always drink ayran on its own just like you drink a coke when you’re thirsty but ayran also goes very well with a lot with pretty much any Turkish dishes (except, of course, Turkish sweets). You can have it with Turkish pide, lahmacun, gozleme, shish kebab, or even shkembe chorba.
Additional Tips For Preparing Ayran
If you want to experiment, you can add some sparkling water instead of regular water. This should increase the amount of foam on the top. For Turkish people, this is the highlight of drinking ayran.
Additionally, if you want to enrich the flavor, you can add some dried mint, black pepper, or even diced cucumbers. It will be tasty but note that it wouldn’t be a traditional Turkish ayran recipe.
You can make ayran with any type of yogurt but it’s always better to use homemade. However, if you can’t find homemade yogurt, don’t worry; a regular yogurt from the supermarket will work just fine but keep in mind that when making ayran, the final result will always depend on the quality of the yogurt you use.
A Few More Things You Could Use
- 3 Cups plain yogurt
- 1 Cup cold water (or sparkling water)
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- Handful of ice cubes
- 1 Teaspoon dried mint
- 1 Teaspoon finely diced cucumbers
- A pinch of black pepper
1. Add the yogurt and salt in a blender and mix for 2-3 minutes.
2. Place the mix in a bowl and start adding a little bit of water gradually, and at the same time, keep whisking.
3. Taste for salt and add more if needed.
4. Put the mix in a blender and mix until it becomes completely smooth.
4.1 If you don’t have a blender, put everything in a jar, close the jar, and shake it for 4-5 minutes.
5. Pour some ice cubes in the glasses and pour the ayran over the ice.
6. Serve the ayran and enjoy!
Serving Size:1 Cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 100Total Fat: 5.4gSaturated Fat: 0.4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 21.7mgSodium: 467mgCarbohydrates: 7.3gNet Carbohydrates: 7.3gFiber: 6.5gSugar: 5.6gProtein: 6.7g
Did you ever try ayran? How did you like our ayran recipe? Do you have anything to add? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
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