How many people must have suffered severe food poisoning during the development of this soup will never be known. The preparation of this historic soup defies all we know about food safety. Turkish tarhana dates back to the days when Turks roamed the Mongolian steppes of Central Asia and needed quick sustenance that didn't require refigeration.
To make tarhana, fill a huge cauldron with equal amounts of ripe red peppers, tomatoes, yogurt, grain and onions, cook it for an hour and leave it covered to ferment for 10 days at room temperature, preferably during the first two weeks of September. Guests and neighbors may assume you are starting a brewery by the smell, and if the dough proofs well, it can grow big enough to even knock the top off of the cauldron.
On day 11, the frothing, foamy mixture settles and is spread out on old sheets to dry in the sunshine, preferaby not under any trees with bird drippings. After 3-4 days, the tarhana hardens into blocks and is then painstakingly grated into a coarse grain. (We cheated and used a food processor.)
To reconstitute the tarhana, soak 1/2 a cup in hot water or broth for a few minutes while the chef sautees garlic and mince meat, adding the tarhana and hot water or stock until thick and bubbly. It's nice served with a drizzle of melted butter and croutons.
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