Looking for a refreshing summer drink, but wanting something a bit different? Or maybe you want the benefits of a great probiotic milk drink like kefir, but you don’t want the hassle of caring for an ongoing culture.
Ayran is the perfect cultured dairy drink for beginner fermenters – it doesn’t really need any fermenting at all, and can be ready in just 2 minutes.
I first read about Ayran in this very long research paper that surveyed a huge number of non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks from throughout Europe. I had never heard of it before and was intrigued.
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At first reading, Ayran sounds like it could taste a bit like the Indian yogurt drink Lassi. But while Lassi is usually sweetened with fruit pulp like mango, or with sugar, Ayran is a savory drink. The only flavoring traditionally added to the already tart yogurt is some salt, and maybe some mint leaves.
So I decided to hunt up a recipe and make some myself to see what it was like.
It is delicious.
It tastes exactly what it sounds like it should – Ayran is salty, runny yogurt. But just saying that doesn’t convey the half of it.
As soon as I took a mouthful, I immediately thought of hot lamb doner kebabs, or a large plateful of Turkish Iskender. I thought of mint, couscous, hummus, and that smokey grill flavor that you only get with meat that has been slowly cooked on a flame rotisserie.
This recipe is definitely going into my summer repertoire. I think it will be a terrific accompaniment to grilled barbecue meats, and what is more, the salt and yogurt combined makes this a perfect natural drink to replace your electrolytes on a steamy sweaty day.
Here’s what I did. You can follow along with me to make your own Ayran at home.
Related: Make your own milk Kefir
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Step 1: gather salt, yogurt and chilled water.
You want plain, unsweetened yogurt. For preference you want yogurt you’ve made yourself, but any good quality natural yogurt will work. I used a small packet of natural yogurt from our local supermarket to try this recipe, since I didn’t have any homemade on hand.
The amounts are a guideline because, as with all traditional home made foods, there is a huge variance in exactly how people like it – depending on how their Grandma used to make it, or their local customs, or how their local cafe serves it.
Start with the following volumes and then adjust it to suit yourself. If you like it thicker, add more yogurt. If you like it thinner, add more water.
If you have a thick Greek-like yogurt, you want approximately equal volumes of water and yogurt. e.g. 1 cup of each
If you have a runnier natural yogurt, you may want 1 part water to 2 parts yogurt (1 cup water, 2 cups yogurt)
Plus salt – to taste, but start with about half a teaspoon per cup of yogurt. You can always adjust the amount to suit yourself in future batches. Use a good quality salt, but with a fine grain. Coarse salt will take too long to dissolve.
Step 2. Mix the ingredients to make Ayran
Most of the instructions I found said to put the Ayran into a blender, but I don’t have a good blender, and I think washing my food processor and its attachments for a simple drink is annoying. (Isn’t it, though?)
But one website did say that you could just put it into a jar with a lid and give it a good shake. Which made me think of the simple milkshake shaker that my children use!
So that’s what I used. (Get your own off-grid milkshake maker here!)
Shake the ingredients until they’re all smooth and a bit frothy.
Step 3. Serve Ayran
Pour into a glass and serve with a garnish of mint leaves if desired.
Yum. SO EASY.
Some parts of Turkey specialize in giving their Ayran an extra frothy, foamy head – which you can apparently achieve at home by using carbonated water if you wish.
Of all the probiotic drinks that I’ve tried, this is certainly the easiest to prepare! You don’t need to have fermented anything yourself – just mix the ingredients and drink it up.
Ayran has been drunk in Eastern Europe and Central Asia for thousands of years. And now you can enjoy this great, probiotic, refreshing drink as well.
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