QURUT – Cooking with Dried Yoghurt
‘Oh Lord, this is not just a stone.
I could smell the scent of milk from them.’ Raisa Golubeva, ‘Qurt, a Gem’
Qurut fuelled the Mongols but is little known in the West. Simi uses it as a drink, adds it to cooking. A mild yoghurt, it ripens and brings funk to a dish.
Qurut originated in the Steppe, and is air dried yoghurt. It is sold dried and formed into balls, and is an ingredient in a variety of recipes. When you add water, it forms a silky, smooth yoghurt, good in soups and lamb, and sweet dishes. Azerbaijan, a Soviet country, is now an independent Turkic state, near Iran. The diet is a mix of pilaf, dairy foods and meat, and a panoply of vegetables. The arid desert landscape is beautiful, remote and rich in minerals, with both settled and nomadic people. Despite qurut fuelling the Mongol conquests and sustaining cosmonauts in space little is known about it in the West. It can be eaten as a snack, rehydrated as a drink or added as an ingredient in cooking. It is mild when fresh, but transforms when ripe, bringing a robust animally funk to a dish. Anyone who likes strong blue cheese flavours is interested and hungry for more qurut. With the increased interest in new healthy ingredients and fermented foods, might qurut be the answer?
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, the Foodie Bugle, Kinfolk and Bath Life magazines.
Her website is https://simiskitchenblog.wordpress.com and her Instagram is @SimisKitchen
You can see traditional Azerbaijan food being made on this You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQHsvXTKOZk
Chapter 1: Origins – which came first: yoghurt or the pot?
Chapter 2: Qurut – “Oh, Lord, this is not just a stone. I could smell the scent of milk from them.”
Chapter 3: Qurut on the hoof
Chapter 4 : Qurut, to make or not to make, that is the question
Chapter 5: Recipes – Qurut in the kitchen – eating, drinking and cooking with Qurut