Most people think of tea as the national non-alcoholic drink of Turkey, yet the simple but delicious drink of Ayran is a worthy contender for the crown. Popularly drank during summer, Ayran, a simple mixture of yogurt, water, and salt, quenches the thirst in ways no other drink can do.
Three simple yet important reasons ensure its popularity in Turkey, where thousands of cartons are sold every day. In addition to gaining popularity in Russia and many western countries, the middle-eastern drink is incredibly easy to make and despite initial reluctance by anyone who has not drunk it before, the taste is surprisingly comforting on the palate. The biggest attribute though, that has contributed towards its esteemed reputation in western countries is the massive amounts of health benefits.
Six Health Benefits of Drinking Ayran
- Ayran contains water, so it is an alternative way of fulfilling the recommended quota of eight glasses of water that a person should drink each day.
- During summer, people sweat more and in doing so, lose natural body salt that the body needs. Drinking Ayran replaces this and explains why it is popular in summer when it can provide instant relief.
- Ayran has high quantities of protein and calcium; therefore, it aids the health of bones and teeth. Bodybuilders, who need large amounts of protein, also drink Ayran instead of the manufactured powder mixes.
- Since it has no sugar, it is a suitable drink for dieters and is a great alternative to other refreshments heavily loaded with sugar such as Coca-Cola.
- The body needs healthy bacteria in its digestive tract to function normally, and Ayran provides this because yogurt is a probiotic food. This type of bacteria is also beneficial for removing toxins from the body so Ayran is also a great hangover cure.
- The bacteria in the yogurt also helps to cure stomach illnesses such as constipation or diarrhea, and this is why many Turkish children are given Ayran when they complain of a sick tummy.
Susurluk: Home of the Best Ayran in Turkey
Although Ayran is mass-produced and sold all over Turkey, the best natural, homemade version comes from the western town of Susurluk. The small and otherwise relatively unknown town has earned itself a sterling reputation for being the king of Ayran makers and their version stands out for two reasons.
The first is the method of preparing it using high-pressure pumps to force the mixture through a faucet that produces a frothy top. Locals say, you should wait five minutes before drinking it, and if the froth disappears, it is a fake Susurluk Ayran. They also credit their natural skimmed yogurt produced from high-quality milk. This isn’t a surprise either because Susurluk is classed as one of Turkey’s top areas for stockbreeding and milk production.
The Great Ayran / Raki Debate
While Ayran may seem a simple blend of ingredients unworthy of praise, Turkey’s President Recep Tayip Erdogan thrust its reputation into the limelight following by a national debate. In 2013, he firmly stated that the alcoholic drink of Raki is not the nation’s drink because children were raised on Ayran and that should be considered the face of Turkey instead. Then in 2015, the state-owned tea brand of Caykur was fined 220,000 lira by the Customs and Trade Ministry after producing an advert by a well-known Turkish rapper that said Ayran makes him sleepy.
Stating that the advert was insulting Ayran with no sound basis, they also criticized the company for trying to decrease the consumption of the drink across the country. While Ayran hasn’t knocked tea off its throne as the most widely consumed drink in the country, it has certainly gained a foothold and loyal following who swear by its health benefits and taste.
How to Make Ayran
Making Ayran is simple and you can change quantities of ingredients to produce your own preferred taste. Into a blender, put a tub of thick yogurt, some water and a generous pinch of salt and then whizz it around for 30 seconds. Drink it straight, add a spring of mint or pour it over ice cubes. That’s all there is to it!