Local culinary tradition is measured by the raw materials that each place produces, and the methods that the old generation used to process them. Do you agree? I guess so. The simpler, healthier tastes come from the most genuine, hand processed raw ingredients.
A timeless traditional dish of the Mediterranean is Trahana pasta, one of the oldest and popular cereal foods of the region. Trahana is basically a dried food (like all pasta!), a type of granular grain and is made by a fermented mixture of wheat, semolina, yoghurt and/or milk – in certain areas they also add tomato or pepper. To consume it all you have to do is boil it in water or milk and make it a thick, creamy, nourishing soup.
Trahana is a popular dish of the Mediterranean and it is found in various countries such as Greece, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, and Persia (Iran). The word is traced back to the ancient Greek word “tragos” which means “spelt”. It is known that shepherds used it extensively as they needed food that was fast to make, with no special ingredients other than milk or whater.
There are two types of Trahana, the sweet version and the sour version.
Trahana is a difficult food to produce – the method that is traditionally used, is what else – your hands! Locals first knead the wheat with the fermented milk and make it in logs. Then they place it on a clean linen or cotton white sheet and leave it to dry.
Upon drying, they use a metal scrub to grind the logs into little grains, then sieving the end product – and leave it again to dry. Just before packaging it, it goes through a high temperature oven for just a few minutes. The whole process is made by hand which give the product its uniqueness and attention it deserves.
Trahana pasta is made during the summer months when the heat can reach 35-40 C so as the milk to ferment easier and the pasta to dry faster.
On the health side, Trahana is high with minerals and the youghrt, wheat, semolina and milk make a powerful mix of nutrients – it has a good level of B-glucan fiber, which helps in maintaining low cholesterol and low sodium, if you are on a low sodium diet. It is also enriched with Vitamins like A (for skin) , thiamin (B1) that is an essential vitamin to treat brain disease, and riboflavin (B2 ) a micronutrient that plays a key role in energy metabolism.
Hippocrates, the ancient doctor of the time, used to prescribe Trahna for people with intestinal problems.
To make sure that the Trahana you buy is made by hand and not by a machine, observe the grains – the little pebbles inside the packaging. If they are uneven, and you also see a white powder at the bottom, it means that the Trahana is made by hand and utmost care has been given for a tasteful, nutrient meal. If on the other hand the grains all have the same size,, and you see no powder tat the bottom, this means that it is made by a machine.
I am sure you will agree that handmade is way tastier that machine made, am I correct?