The Legendary Tarhana

Walking…One step, then one step further, walking for hours, days, months, even years. As taking a step, witnessing that the day turns into the night and the summer turns into the winter, and always searching more, searching the homeland, migrating… While migrating from a country to another and the seasons are changing, learning to survive with the help of the nature against the nature…

  • 04.01.2017
  • Dilara Anahtarcı

This challenging manner of life carved in our genetics is the heritage of our ancestors. Many foods we have seen on the dining tables which we sit with our loved ones belong to this manner of life, this culture. It is such a culture that it has learned to use all of the miracles of nature to its slightest degree and has succeeded in teaching and transferring it from generation to generation.


One of these transmissions is tarhana which nowadays makes the tables fruitful with its sour smell and its smoke on it. This miracle of the fermentation, which dates back to Central Asia, is known as the first ready-made soup in the world. Tarhana is one of the varieties of winter foods prepared with flour, salt, skim-milk cheese, dried meat, which the Turks call “kurut”. There are many kinds of tarhana varying from region to region depend on different materials put in tarhana, whose main ingredients are cereal and yoghurt. It is known that there are about 50 kinds of tarhana that we can identify such as Flour Tarhana, Split Cereal Tarhana, Semolina Tarhana, Mixed Tarhana, Tomato Tarhana and Uşak Tarhana.

Tarhana, which is consumed in Anatolia, the Middle East and the Balkans, was named differently in various countries: trahana (Albania), trahanas (Greece), kishk (Lebanon). “tar” was used as the meaning of yoghurt hiding from summer to winter for tarhana in Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk.

In Turkish dictionaries, tarhana was first written in the form of “tarhanah” in which Turkish idioms belong to Kipchak and Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt and it was known as “terine” during the reign of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror.


There are various rumors about how the word of “tarhana” emerged: “Once upon a time there was a sultan. He was travelling around the country, he was visiting every house in each country he travelled and he became the guest of the tables. One day, the Sultan knocked the door of a family with low income and wanted to be a guest of their table. The lady of the house made a mixture of the ingredients she had found at home and presented it to the Sultan. The Sultan liked this soup very well and named this soup as ‘darhane’ soup.” This word has changed over time and turned into ‘tarhana’ which we use today.


Wish this fertile soup, which bears the memory of centuries, be not short of our tables.




Altun, İ. (2015). Tarhana and Tarhana Soup Traditionally Made in Kahramanmaraş-Elbistan. Iğdır University Journal of the Institute of Science and Technology, 5(1) pp. 45-49.

Coşkun, F., (2014). History of Tarhana and Types of Tarhana in Turkey. Electronic Journal of Food Technology, 9(3) pp. 69-79.


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