a different taste: ASHURA
I am not crazy about desserts. If ever, I eat them when hungry. Once I downed a good portion of holiday baklava before breakfast. I like some dessert with coffee, also. Well, that ashura though… I don’t count it among desserts at all. It is something else…
According to the Alewite tradition, it is a sacred dessert made during the month of Muharram of the Islamic calendar that includes the Day of Ashura. It is the expression of an old tradition of boiling things in the kettle, with roots in shamanism. It is not unfounded like some other traditions. It has substance.
Home supply all, you can thrown the boiler creating INTEGRITY with "boiling". No matter the quantity, type. Taste, fertility become unity. Also unique.
It is about creating a unified, integrated whole by throwing and boiling all grains, regardless what kind and how much they are, in the kettle. Its deliciousness and abundance are brought about by this unity, by this integrity.
Easy; to collect the materials/ingredients at home for starting. Difficulty; It wants us to take care of. The ingredients are not mixed uncooked to boil together. if they are so, we could make “aşure” slurry.
It is easy: we just grab the available ingredients from the pantry and make a go. It is involved: it needs careful attention to detail. We can’t start boiling everything at once. If we do, our ashura turns into slop.
Materials, with its own separate, individual cooking "cooked" by boiling first. Thus, end to worry about the chickpea leaves cooked; bean was left alive; wheat is melt... "in itself" when they're ready, boil all together. You know, it's not good even people incomplete.
Ingredients are boiled separately, according to their individual cooking times. That takes care of the worries about uncooked chickpeas, mashed beans and undercooked wheat. They all get separately ready to boil together at the end. As you know, even a person cannot be appreciated raw. The good in the person comes out when the person is fully developed.
We first put the wheat, chickpeas and the beans in the kettle. A pinch of salt is added just to round it out. We add the sugar after the mix comes to a boil. To find the right consistency is a task for the dried fruit, also. We cut the dried apricots in four and cook them. Their juice can also be added to the mix. The raisins are similarly boiled, but their juice should to be discarded; it can make the ashura turn dark in color. The pistachios and walnuts are added last.
From adding grated orange peel to adding cloves, there are many different personal preferences. Oranges themselves may be sliced and added, too, to bring tartness to the mix. It is stirred while simmering. When it is ready, it is poured into bowls. Then the portions are sprinkled with bits of hazelnuts, walnuts, cinnamon and what have you. The look of ashura bursts in colors, not unlike the flavors and aromas it bursts with in the mouth.
All come together without their individually beautiful flavors being overwhelmed. A unity of tastes comes to be. Some may not like legumes in their dessert. Others, who favor combinations of sweet and savory like me, love it. Of course, everyone’s palate should find the taste it has been seeking. Ashura fittingly “boiled” is almost too much of a treat. Most of us ate the ashura our mothers made. We did not dare to “boil” it ourselves. It was being boiled, anyway. We always had the chance to eat it. Then it dawned on me: it was time to “boil” it ourselves; we had to be the ones boiling our own ashura.
I understood: its substance comes from the fact that, with the flavors and the sense of abundance it brings to life, it is a creation for the good of the whole, whole of the dessert or the community. It does not hurt the sanctity of life in any way. That is the essence of the love for ashura, I found. Love of eating alone does not do, you should love to cook, also. I am going to boil things in my kettle at every chance I have. May its abundance last forever.