Guide to SKOPJE

Ayran – Turkish national beverage


It is said to be a brilliant modification of yoghurt. It is refreshing and relaxing, it isn’t carbonated and according to experts it is a very healthy drink. It doesn’t need any kind of advertising to sell well. It is an ideal drink for hot summer days compensating for the loss of water and salt and it is one of the few Turkish words which have managed to enter into the English vocabulary. Yes, you are right: it’s ayran, a recently proclaimed Turkish national drink.

DSC_0414Ayran (salty yoghurt) is the most popular cold beverage in Turkey and it goes well with almost all dishes. Basically, it is made by adding water to yoghurt and is popular with people of all ages.

DSC_0312We were met by Suleiman and Abdurahman at a Turkish restaurant “Gaziantep Sofrasi” (Gaziantep is a city located between south-eastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean) in the old Turkish bazaar in Skopje. “I drink ayran very often as it is a refreshing and healthy beverage. In my home we consider it an essential drink especially during the hot summer days.” – says Abdurahman. The specialty of this restaurant is Adana kebab with ayran as an inseparable part of this Turkish dish.

DSC_0416Despite similarities, there are a few little differences in the process of preparation in different regions. In Susurluk district (Balikesir, Turkey), by using a small electric engine, ayran is  vacuumed from a pot and sprayed back again through a narrow tube. In this process the fat from the yoghurt creates foam on the drink. This is the most popular kind of ayran and is known as Susurluk ayran. In eastern parts of Turkey people use different methods of mixing which produces a delicious and foamy shake.

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How did people start making ayran? Coincidentally, just as any other successful product. During an expedition of the Gokturks (Turkish people in medieval inner Asia) between 552-745, they wanted to soften the sour taste of yoghurt so they added water to it, thus creating delicious ayran.

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Besides Turkey, ayran is very much used in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Greece and other Balkan countries, the Middle East and Central Asia. It is always best to use sheep yoghurt, also if you wish to improve its taste you may use milk instead of water. Salt can be added, which gives it a special flavour and guarantees freshness during long summer days.

Balkon3 team enjoyed sipping ayran at temperatures that announce a long hot summer.