The Greekish Life
Eat and Drink
A Delicious Alternative to Oatmeal
Although I was raised in a Greek-American household, I don't ever recall even hearing the word "trachana" (sometimes spelled "trahana"), let alone eaten it, so I was quite interested in learning more about this curious dairy-based grain. Once I started researching it, I realized what an anomaly our home was regarding this pantry staple.
Trachana (tra-hah-NA) is an ancient food - one of the original comfort foods. It's protein-rich, high-fiber and filling, but low in calories and fat. Found all over the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, it was originally created as a brilliant way to save surplus milk.
Trachana is a mixture of bulgur, cracked wheat or semolina mixed with either milk or yogurt. When it's dried, it has a crumbly, gravelly texture and is used as everything from a porridge (as we have here) to a thickener for soups. It comes in "sweet" and "sour" versions; the sweet is made with (typically) fresh goat's milk, while the sour is made with yogurt or buttermilk. Making trachana from scratch is a long and arduous process, but once it's made and ready, it's one of the best "fast foods" in the Greek kitchen. It can be made into sweet or savory dishes.
You can buy trachana online or at your local Greek grocery, if you're lucky enough to have one nearby.
A word about pomegranates
For a long time I had a dread of pomegranates. Not that I didn't love them, but I was very intimidated by them. How do you get the delicious arils - the tart-sweet and jewel-like seeds - out of them without a huge mess or waste? It's actually quite easy! Get a deep bowl, as there will be some spatter. Cut the fruit in half, making sure that you do it on a stain-resistant surface like a cutting board, and hold one half over the bowl with the cut side facing down. Take a wooden spoon and smack the outside of the rind with the back of the spoon. The seeds will fall out with very little of the white pith, which you can pick out. Keep hitting it until all or most of the arils are out. If there are few stubborn ones left, dig them out with a teaspoon (I recommend doing this before you make the trachana). You can store unused arils in a covered glass container in the fridge for a couple of days. They're delicious on their own, or as a topping for ice cream, cakes or tiganites.
1/2 cup sweet trachana
1/2 cup water (add more if needed as it cooks)
pinch of salt
cinnamon to taste
Optional toppings used here:
1. Add sweet trachana, salt and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir a few minutes until it thickens. If it seems too dry and hard to stir, add a tiny bit more water until it looks like this:
2. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to taste. Stir again.
Top it with fresh fruit, nuts and/or raisins, and add a sprinkle more cinnamon for good measure.
And that's literally it! Is there anything easier?
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