The filming of this video for Erishte (Dumpling) Soup took two days. Actually, the filming itself didn’t take more than a few hours, but the editing was a catastrophe. Twice, I had to start editing from the beginning, and I don’t even remember how many times I had to dump half of it and do it all over. Nothing seemed to work. Finally, in the middle of the night, I hit on the solution, leapt out of bed and finished it up. Now is the time to share that long awaited moment on this blog.
I adore this soup. The making of the erishte (dried dumpling/noodles) is another pleasure in itself, and the days from my summer vacations in the village that stay with me the most are those pleasant and unforgettable days of making erishte.
The evening of ‘The opening of the erishte’, as we called the act of rolling out the dough, was the commencement of a wonderful bustle at the house. News would be sent to the other women of the village, who would be invited along with, if available, their tables and rolling pins. By the mornings, who new how many doughs were being worked in how many pans? And I can’t even begin to count how many women would ‘open’, that is, roll out the dough on the flat roof of the kadîn (the hay shed where we also dried mulberries in the sun and performed a hundred other such jobs.) Or how many children would carry the rolling pins to them. The one who could roll the dough out the farthest without tearing it earned a lot of prestige and respect. The women would then fold this enormous sheet of dough over the rolling pin. We children would watch this process like a hawk, eager to be the ones allowed to spread out the dough in a nice sunny spot. This experience can stil be lived today. So, how to make the erishte into soup? The answer to that is here, in the video and recipe below.
In the land of Mesopotamia, where modern methods have not yet taken hold, most sources of nourishment are dried first in the sun and then stored. Erishte is one food item that makes use of this technique. Erishte, and I will explain in more detail shortly, is basically a dough made of flour, water and salt; rolled out and cut into a variety of shapes; then dried in the sun.. It is still made and known today as ‘erishte’ throughout Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and the Middle East. The noodles of the Far East and the pasta of Italian cuisine follow the same basic logic as erishte.
First, you grind high quality wheat in a mill. You have to grind the flour a little finer than you would for bread.Water and salt is added to this bread and then kneaded. The higher the quality of the flour, the thinner the dough can be rolled out—a situation strongly desired for the making of erishte. A piece about the size of a fist is broken off the dough. To do this, we use a spatula called a “hevstîv” with a square base and a long, thin handle—because the dough is very tough. Once the fist sized dough is broken off, it’s laid out on a large, round table and rolled out as thin as possible with a long rolling pin. To keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin, you have to use lots of flour.Once the dough is rolled out, it’s spread on a large cloth or oil cloth in a very wide and sunny space—all in a row.
When the edges start to dry and lift, they are placed on a large upside down tray, one on top of the other, and thus, layer after layer of pasta dough begins to gather. Once again, these pasta layers are transferred and laid out on a large, high table and first cut into two sections down the middle with a sharp, wide-bladed knife. Then these sections are in turn cut into long parallel strips. These strips are cut again and again until in the end, you have small squares. These squares are emptied onto an old fashioned, large-holed sifter and the flour pieces sifted out. They are once more dried in the sun and spaced out with long, thin sticks in order to prevent them from sticking together.
The end of August and the beginning of September is an ideal time for this job. During these months the sun is not so harsh as to crack the erishte, and yet warm enough to make it possible to dry and collect them quickly. This whole ritual is both a part of the short preparation process and a typical example of a collective type of labor.
Thyme Dumpling Soup (Gêrmiya Erişte)
Ingredients, feeds 8
6 ½ US cups of water (1,5 litre)
1 2/3 US cups yogurt (400 g)
1 soup bowl of erishte pasta (80 g)*
1 bowl cooked chickpeas (weight cooked 150 g)
1 heaping tablespoon flour (20 g)
1 tablespoon salt (15-20 g)
1 egg yolk
For the topping
A little less than ¼ cup cooking oil (50 ml)
2 tablespoons thyme**
*if you cannot find erishte in a Turkish or Middle Eastern grocery make your own flour dumping or use any small, thin flour pasta.
**the thyme here is called anix in Kurdish. It’s species name is origanum rotundifolium which you can find in garden shops (the net claims it is not used for cooking because it is not of ‘the right quality’, but people all over the Middle East use it and it’s delicious.) You could find it at Middle Eastern groceries as ‘za’atar’ or, you could just make do with regular thyme (oregano and marjoram might work, too)
- Mix all the yogurt, 2 cups of water, the egg yolk, flour, and salt together into a bowl and whip thoroughly. If you have a wire whisk, beat for a good five minutes.If you are using a blender, two minutes is sufficient.
- Pour the rest of the water into a soup pan and bring it to a boil. When it reaches a rolling boil, add the erishte a bit at a time so that it doesn’t stick together. Let boil for five minutes.
- Gently add the whipped yogurt mixture into the boiling water, making sure to stir constantly. Let boil for ten minutes and then add the cooked chickpeas. Let it boil two minutes more and then turn off the flame.
- In a pan, gently stir-fry the thyme in oil on a low flame, taking care not to let it brown or burn. (The oil should turn green) Serve the soup in bowls. With a tablespoon, swirl two spoonfulls of the thyme-oil mixture over the soup in the bowl. Enjoy!!