Noah’s Pudding or Ashure (Turkish: Aşure and pronounced as a-shur-a) is a Turkish dessert made of a mixture of wheat, white beans, chickpeas, fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and sugar. It is magic that all ingredients unite in one pot, yet each one preserves their unique taste. The smell will wrap your kitchen and uplift your spirit right away.
Ashure is one of the most popular and naturally vegan desserts in Turkish cuisine. It might also be the oldest pudding in the history of humanity. It has been a symbol of love, sharing, solidarity, kindness, and prosperity for thousands of years. It is a common belief that you attract abundance by cooking Ashure in your house. You must make it in large quantities and share it with the poor, neighbors, relatives, and loved ones. That is the spirit of Ashure, a gesture of love and peace.
Aşure comes from the Arabic word ‘Ashura,’ which means the tenth day of the first month, Muharram, in the Islamic calendar. Since the Islamic calendar is lunar, the date for Ashure changes every year. Even though you need to cook and eat it on the tenth day, you can make this recipe anytime you want. It is nutritious and delicious.
The legend goes that Noah’s ark came to rest on Mount Ararat after forty days on the waters. To celebrate the landing on the next day, Noah wanted to cook, but his supplies were exhausted. So, he made this dish with the leftovers, mostly nuts, fruits, and grains, but no animal ingredient. He shared the final pudding with everybody. This legend explains why the full version of this recipe has forty-one elements. The recipe below, of course, is a simplified version.
Based on this legend, Ashure consists of leftover ingredients. So, there is no original or authentic Ashure recipe. It varies between different cultures and regions. It is not your typical dessert, either. You can cook this recipe with whatever is available in your pantry and create a delicious Ashure with your signature on it. But traditionally, you have at least 7 to 12 ingredients, including wheat or barley, legumes, dried and fresh fruits, spices, and sugar.
Popular recipes use refined table sugar to keep Ashure creamy white. I preferred coconut sugar, which has a lower glycemic index than white sugar. Also, coconut sugar preserves notable minerals found in the coconut palm. Because of coconut sugar, the color of my Ashure is dark. Some recipes would add rice too. I did not. I knew that I wanted to keep the recipe low sugar, so I skipped white rice and kept the total sugar used much less.
- 2 cups pearl barley/wheat
- 1/2 cup dry white haricot (navy) beans
- 1/2 cup dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 1 cup (5-6) dried whole Turkish figs, finely diced
- 1 cup dried whole apricots, finely diced
- 3/4 cup sultanas (alternatively raisins)
- 1/2 cup currants (kuş üzümü)
- 3/4 cup hazelnuts (skin removed)
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup unsalted almonds
- 1 + 1/2 cup of sugar (I used coconut sugar)
- 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk (I used cashew milk)
- 1 orange zest
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- Pinch of cloves (5-8 pieces)
- ½ cup white sesame seeds (toasted)
- 1 cup pistachios, coarsely ground
- 1 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
- ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds (fresh ones were not in markets yet, so I used frozen)
- Wash and rinse barley. Soak dried navy beans, chickpeas, and washed barley in enough water in separate bowls overnight for 10-12 hours.
- Drain beans and chickpeas. Place them in separate saucepans. Cover with water and boil for 40-45 minutes, or until they are soft enough. Drain them, discard the water, and set them aside.
- Place dried figs, apricots, currants, and sultanas in a large bowl. Soak them in lukewarm water for 30 minutes. Strain them. Chop figs and apricots into smaller pieces and set them aside.
- Drain barley. Rinse it couple times to remove excess residues. Fill a large saucepan or pot with 8 cups of water and bring it to boil. Add barley and let it simmer for 40-45 minutes or until it is soft.
- In the meantime, put walnuts and almonds in a food processor. Coarsely grind them and set aside.
- Add cooked chickpeas and beans to the barley. Let them simmer for 10 minutes in low heat. Stir occasionally.
- Add hazelnuts and almonds. Continue stirring.
- Add chopped figs and apricots, sultanas, currants, sugar, and cinnamon sticks. Add milk and stir. If the mixture is too thick, add extra water (2 cups or so). Continue cooking for 10 minutes.
- Add cloves, grated orange skin, and simmer it for another 5 minutes or until the pudding starts to thicken.
- Remove the pudding from the heat. Pour it into small serving bowls and let them cool down at room temperature. Refrigerate them for an hour or two before serving.
- Decorate them with toasted sesame seeds, walnuts, pistachios, chopped apricots, and pomegranate arils. Optionally you can sprinkle ground cinnamon and orange zest.
You can store the pudding in the fridge for a week.