That’s the way I feel about discovering any new food that I like, and the latest one on my list is one many of you may have never heard of. It’s called trahana.
Trahana is a wheat product that is eaten throughout Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean. Traditionally it was a way to preserve milk for the winter, when production was always lower, by mixing it with wheat and drying it. There are many versions, some made with milk only (usually goat’s or sheep’s milk, this type is called sweet trahana), some with milk and yogurt (called sour trahana). In Greece there is even a lenten version made with vegetable pulp. Some trahana is made with flour, some with semolina, and some with bulgur. The ingredients are mixed to form a dough or a porridge, then spread out to dry (in the sun in the Mediterranean), and once dry and brittle broken up into a pebbly meal, which is easily reconstituted. It has a wonderful tart, grainy flavor and a comforting texture.
Inspired by a very simple recipe for trahana made with bulgur, yogurt, and a mix of goat’s milk and cow’s milk, in Diane Kochilas’s wonderful new book Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die, I made a few batches of sour trahana, and devote this week’s Recipes for Health to delicious and comforting soups and pilafs I made with the product.