Porridge or Soup: What is Trahana, and How to Prepare It

A super food and endlessly versatile, trahana might be the most misunderstood dish in the Greek cuisine.


Chef: Nena Ismirnoglou

Preparation & Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

It may not be a dish served at many Greek restaurants abroad, or even one you’ve heard of, but trahana could be argued to be one of the most traditional Greek dishes there are, deriving from one first enjoyed in ancient times (referred to then as tractae).

Recipes often translate trahana to “frumenty,” a porridge common in medieval times, which doesn’t make it sound very appealing. A simple description doesn’t do the dish much justice either; simply put, it was created as a way of storing milk in the summer to consume in the winter, and is made with soured milk, to which wheat is added to make a paste. It’s then dried, broken apart into tiny pebbles, and stored for up to a year, before it’s cooked into a porridge or soup. But while soured milk and porridge may not bring high gastronomy to mind, many modern chefs are actually cooking with trahana. Its versatile nature makes it suitable as a canvas for all kinds of flavors, much like foods like risotto or bread, and it has many health benefits too; considered a super food, it contains plenty of fiber and lactobalili, which are good for digestion, and protein, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and calcium in a form which the body can easily absorb, antioxidants, and very few calories.

 

In addition, trahana is the perfect comfort food. In Greece, it’s often one of the first foods a baby eats, and something you enjoy when it’s cold out and you’re feeling nostalgic. Some of the most popular recipes for trahana include tomatoes and feta cheese, a perfect tangy, sweet and salty combination, which makes it a scrumptious meal. And as if that’s not enough, it takes merely twenty minutes to prepare. What’s not to love?

Where to buy it

You can find trahana at any Greek supermarket, but the very best is the homemade kind. If you don’t enjoy the luxury of having a friend or a grandmother who makes their own trahana, small shops in Greek villages are your best bet. There, in tourist shops as well as mini markets, butcher shops and women’s cooperatives, you’ll find bags of different kinds of trahana. The wheat can range from coarse to fine (on Crete, for example, look for “xinohontros,” which uses coarse wheat). There is sweet trahana (made with whole milk instead of soured) and sour trahana, varieties made with vegetable pulp instead of milk for lent, and bags of trahana mixed with local spices.

Recipe

Method

Heat the olive oil up in a pot over high heat, and briefly sauté the trahana.

Add the water (or vegetable stock) and the salt, and bring to a boil.

 

Once boiling, immediately lower the heat, and let simmer without a lid for 10-15 minutes, or until the soup is nice and thick.

Tips: Serve your trahana with some crumbled feta cheese and black onion seeds, grated parmesan, sautéed mushrooms, or some sausage or prosciutto.

This recipe for trahana was previously published in Greek along with the above video at gastronomos.gr.

Ingredients

1 teacup sour or sweet trahana

1.200 ml water or vegetable stock

 

50 ml olive oil

a pinch of salt



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