How do I overcome the limitations of my upbringing and make Ayran palatable?
April 11, 2012 2:16 PM   Subscribe

How do I make Ayran drinkable?

I have a bottle of Ayran in my fridge. Specifically, this brand.

The last time I tried Ayran straight, at a Turkish restaurant in Brooklyn several years ago, I thought it was simply godawful. Sour, nasty, overly-tart. I have an all-American palate; I didn't grow up drinking this. I rather doubt that I'll ever acquire a taste for the unadulterated version. But I would like to try adding things to this drink to see if I can make it palatable.

What are some recipes for lassi/ayran style yogurt drinks that might appeal to someone who doesn't regularly drink it? I'm particularly interesting in learning about mint-based recipes. Extra bonus points for recipes that don't rely on large doses of sugar; I do love the stuff but I know that it isn't good for me.

Many thanks in advance!
posted by jason's_planet to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
Best answer: ooo, I loved drinking Ayran general while I was in Turkey. This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but you mention sugar and I felt that Ayran went extremely well with the overly rich and sugary baklava I ate in eastern Turkey.
posted by MillMan at 2:20 PM on April 11, 2012

Love that stuff - I haven't found that brand to be exceptionally tart. Maybe give it a try and see if it's really the same as the stuff you had in the restaurant (I love plain yogurt, so our tastes may differ).
posted by bunderful at 2:28 PM on April 11, 2012

I love ayran most when it is miserably hot outside and the drink is icy cold.

I also think it gets more palatable as you try it a few times, as your palate knows what to expect.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:34 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

This Turkish restaurant in Australia makes forest berry ayran. I think you could add any blended fruit.
Ayran is supposed to be slightly salty and sour; it's refreshing on a hot day. With chopped up mint, yum. But I also enjoy plain yogurt....
posted by travelwithcats at 2:37 PM on April 11, 2012

Best answer: I grew up on ayran (in Bulgaria) but do find the Turkish version a bit too salty, sour and tart. I especially hate the mint/cumin version or the carbonated canned ayran they sell in Turkey.

You could try making your own with a milder yoghurt like a Russian yogurt or a Bulgarian yogurt if you're lucky to live in an area where it's readily available. Add water, a pinch of salt, shake. I like it for breakfast, but my parents enjoy theirs with a bit of freshly ground black pepper, served along with ice-cold vodka in a shot glass.
posted by halogen at 2:46 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about incorporating it into a smoothie, maybe with mango or banana/strawberry? It could just be an enricher / body component, like regular yogurt would be. Also, drinking it very cold might mitigate the flavor.

Alternatively, you could use it instead of buttermilk in recipes like pancakes or biscuits, or add it instead of milk to chocolate cake or banana-nut bread. I can imagine it giving lovely, interesting, delicious results. Be sure to cut back on the salt in the recipe to compensate for the salt in the drink.
posted by amtho at 2:47 PM on April 11, 2012

My former housemate, who's Hungarian, kept a bottle in the fridge. When I asked what it was, she said it was the best hangover cure. So a good excuse to indulge?
posted by mippy at 3:10 PM on April 11, 2012

I would add cucumber pieces and fresh dill, then throw it out. I hate the stuff.
posted by tel3path at 4:54 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Do you like plain yogurt? I'd start by eating that, since it's neither salty or sweet. I think the problem is that your American palate is expecting something sweet, since you're not used to drinking salty stuff, or yogurt not being sweet. So get yourself used to plain yogurt, and then work your way over to ayran. When you're not expecting something sweet, you might not be as disgusted by drinking something salty. But I know a lot of open minded American-palate people who just do not stuff like this, and that's ok.
posted by at 5:24 PM on April 11, 2012

Best answer: The more I think about, the more the appeal is in the saltiness... like how a margarita or a salty lemonade is extra good on a hot day. Maybe you can shift your mental image of it into that category of sort of electrolytey refresher. Mmm salty yogurt.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:00 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: ooo, I loved drinking Ayran general while I was in Turkey. This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but you mention sugar and I felt that Ayran went extremely well with the overly rich and sugary baklava I ate in eastern Turkey.

I also love it with just about any Middle Eastern savoury food, where it cuts through the oiliness of things like felafel, fuul or kebabs, and where the dairy-ness nicely cleanses your palate between mouthfuls laden with ingredients like garlic & parsley. If you think of it as a kind of salty condiment for your food instead of as a standalone drink, you might get more mileage out of it.

It's also a very refreshing hangover cure, as mentioned above. Especially teamed with the aforementioned oily food.

My most easily found brand is Lebanese, for what that's worth - a bit thicker & less tart than the Turkish kind.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:38 PM on April 11, 2012

Try mint in it as well - I remember having the best Ayran in Turkey that was blended with mint.
posted by chronic sublime at 2:14 AM on April 12, 2012

I found ayran to be an acquired taste -- I hated it the first few times I had it; now I live in Turkey and drink it on its own on hot days. The conversion point for me was having it with vegetable olive oil dishes, bulghur rice, and other great savory Turkish food.

And if you want a hangover cure, there's no replacement for Şalgam. Hell, make like the Turks and drink it with your rakı!
posted by Theiform at 2:56 AM on April 12, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone!
posted by jason's_planet at 6:40 PM on April 13, 2012

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