Tracing the origins of qurut is like looking back into the evolution of our food. Once we started to store milk in containers, it could be transformed into cheese or yoghurt depending on the microorganisms in the vessel and anything else it came into contact with. Depending on the climate and resources available we dried, froze or salted our food to make it last longer. In the arid steppe dried yoghurt became known as qurut. This book will acquaint the reader with the origins of qurut, how it is made and its varieties. It will also explore the uses of this nomadic necessity and its Iranian heritage.
Qurut fuelled the Mongol conquests and sustained cosmonauts in space, yet little is known about it in the West. Originating in the steppe, qurut, or air-dried yoghurt, can be eaten as a snack, rehydrated as a drink, or added as an ingredient in cooking. Today, when it’s a question of new healthy ingredients and fermented foods, could qurut be the answer?
Chapter 1 Origins – Which came first: yoghurt or the pot?
Tracing the origins of qurut is like looking back into the evolution of Iranian food. In the arid steppe, food was dried, frozen or salted to make it last longer. Dried yoghurt became known as qurut.
Chapter 2 Qurut – “Oh, Lord, these are not just stones. I could smell the scent of milk from them.”
Qurut is a portable preserve which keeps for a long time. It provides nutrition in times of famine or when travelling.
Chapter 3 Qurut on the hoof
Portable, nutritious and easy to turn into a meal without a kitchen, qurut travelled well, and anywhere it was taken now claims it as their own. Whether in its dry or wet form, whether hard or dry, or used as cheese, qurut and the rituals associated with it were fundamental to nomadic civilisations.
Chapter 4 Qurut to make or not to make, that is the question?
Three things are needed to achieve the flavour of qurut: access to the most natural milk and resulting yoghurt, an arid climate, and patience. If you do not have these three elements then it might be better to get it from someone who does. When making qurut, nothing is wasted: the whey is boiled and transforms into qara qurut, which has a dark sour flavour and is usually added to thicken soups and stews. In different regions, those with access to grain simultaneously made tarhana, a dry couscous-style staple of fermented dried grain and yoghurt, the original cup-a-soup!
Chapter 5 Recipes - qurut in the kitchen – eating, drinking and cooking with qurut.
Simi Rezai-Ghassemi is a cookery teacher, writer, food researcher, organic gardener, and Iran food tour guide. She was born in the Azerbaijan region of Iran. Simi is a self-taught cook, coming to gardening and cooking later in life. When her friend’s children were diagnosed with coeliac disease and couldn’t eat dairy either, Simi shared a few Iranian recipes, the start of Simi’s Kitchen in Bath. Somerset. She is a specialist in the food of the Silk Route and allergen-free cooking. She is a regular at the Oxford Symposium on Food. Simi travels regularly to Iran to visit family, research recipes and ingredients which she hares in her classes and writing. Simi’s Kitchen has been featured in the Guardian, theFoodie Bugle, Kinfolk and Bath Life magazines.