Proder Activities: “Cooking Aşure”, Social Inclusion for the Elderly

Proder Activities: “Cooking Aşure”, Social Inclusion for the Elderly

Local social projects make a big change in societies. Getting to know and helping the people of your own city and neighbourhood boosts people’s solidarity and happiness. Elderly people are often excluded from social life, since they usually don’t work and they commonly face some physical difficulties. But elderly people have a lot of wisdom and life experience which can be very helpful for younger generations. They are not always treated with respect and inclusion and at times they can feel solitude and abandonment. Taking care of our elderlies is necessary in order to create a better and more inclusive-like society.

Two weeks ago we held a local project activity in Proder: “Cooking Aşure”. For this activity we cooked Aşure, a traditional Turkish dish with elderly people living in Eskisehir. It was the fourth activity of our local project “Social Inclusion for the Elderly”. 

History of Aşure

Aşure is a traditional Turkish dish eaten the week after the 10th day of the Muslim Muharrem month, the first month of the Islamic calendar,  which is based on the moon. When Aşure is cooked in a household it is made in a big pot for a lot of people, because it is shared with friends, family and neighbours. Its tradition is very ancient; Aşure is considered the oldest dessert of the world, and it is also known as “Noah’s Ark Pudding”. 

Legend says that when Noah was in the boat with all of the animals, water and food started to become scarce, so he decided to throw lots of different ingredients in a big pot creating what we now know as Aşure. All animals survived, and Noah’s ark arrived at Mount Ararat in East Turkey. 

Aşure Recipe 

Materials

  • One big pot
  • A wooden spoon

Ingredients

  • A pot full of water
  • Barley
  • Chickpeas
  • Beans
  • Sugar
  • Dried fruits (dried figs, dried apricots, raisins)
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Cinnamon

Aşure starts to be prepared the night before it is eaten. In a big pot full of water barley is cooked until boiled and left to cool down and absorb the water overnight. The next day the water and cooked barley is cooked with the rest of the ingredients: first sugar, then chickpeas and beans, and at last nuts and dried fruits. It takes a few hours of boiling and gently mixing the ingredients until it is ready. It can be served hot or cold, depending on each person’s taste. We prefer it hot, with cinnamon and hazelnuts on the top. 

Proder Activity: “Cooking Aşure”

Proder’s “Cooking Aşure” activity is part of our NGO’s local project “Social Inclusion for the Elderly”. The activity lasted one day, from morning until evening. Two days before the activity, Proder team members went shopping to buy the ingredients for Aşure and brought them to Hacer, one of our project participants. The day before the activity Hacer, the grandmother of one of our Proder volunteers, Kağan, started preparing the recipe. Aşure takes a long time until it is ready, usually one or two days, and the result is delicious. 

On Friday morning we arrived to Hacer’s home, who taught Proder international and local volunteers and interns how to cook Aşure. After a few hours of cooking we prepared a comfy set of tables and chairs in Hacer’s building’s courtyard and invited elderly people in the streets to eat Aşure served in small carton bowls. People of all ages joined: elderly, young people, adults and children, fulfilling our aim of boosting social integration. 

It didn’t take long until Aşure was finished; more than 70 servings were handed out. After the food was done we cleaned up and thanked all the participants. It was a great activity, we learned about Turkish food and culture traditions, met nice people in Eskisehir and worked towards elderly inclusion in Eskisehir.

Irene Adolph Crespo