What Is Sour Trahana?

by in How-to, Shows, April 13th, 2012

sour trahanaLast Sunday night on the premiere episode of Chopped All-Stars, the Iron Chef contestants opened up their baskets to find sour trahana. I quickly found myself Googling the term, only to find out several minutes later from Ted Allen that it’s a traditional Greek pasta that is essentially flour kneaded with sour milk, buttermilk or yogurt and some salt.



I couldn’t get a good glimpse of the grain on TV, but imagine a substance similar to couscous.

According to The Food and Wine of Greece by Diane Kochilas, “Until a generation ago, sour trahana was the shepherd’s and farmer’s breakfast. It was made at the end of every summer all over Greece in preparation for the winter months.”

So what can you do with sour trahana? Try cooking it in a soup, like Cat Cora’s Chicken Soup. The longer you cook the grain, the thicker it becomes.

If you can’t find sour trahana in the international aisle of your local supermarket, try searching for it online at a Greek specialty store.

Tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c when four gourmet globetrotters — Keegan Gerhard, Marcela Valladolid, Jeffrey Saad and Aarti Sequeira — take their place on the Chopping Block.

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Comments (12)

  1. galateasca says:

    One of the reasons we love watching Chopped is that we are exposed to ingredients we wouldn't ordinarily use. Sour trahana is one of the things we are excited about experimenting with. Leave it to Chopped to get us wanting to try yet another culinary delight!

  2. tiimy v says:

    Had no idea what this was–57 yr old 2nd generation Hellene kitchen veteran. Ba! Pos ton xebri! What the heck, who new!

  3. FanFare57 says:

    It sounds very interesting and I'd love to try it. Thanks for the info.

  4. Ferhat says:

    we ( turkish ) call that tarhana. we usually make soup from tarhana. it has a lot of ingredient. tasty and nutritional.

    some of tarhana ingredients: flour, yogurt, chick peas, tomatoes, red/green peppers, onion, salt, mint…

    • leni says:

      Turks are the often unaware recipients of thousands of years of Greek and Greek Byzantine civilization…wiped out whem Muslims invaded but lives on as an assimilation by those who conquered

      • Eurozone says:

        Greeks are often unaware that not everything is Greek,,,
        Trahana as a word has nothing Greek in it ? Heck, "Greeks" are a mix of Albanians, Slavs, Aromanians, Turks, and others that te only thing they have in common is the language…

        This is eaten in all Balkans by the way…

        • You are an idiot. Heck, you couldnt be a pimple on a Greek's backside. Trahana is traced to the ancient Greek trakton or trakta. Which means spelt, which is a grain.

          • Ney says:

            Re eisai o monos pou komplexares, skepsou ligo prin miliseis oti afti sou i alazoneia einai ntropiastiki. O tourkos den eipe itan katholou proklitikos. Ntrepomai gia logariasmo sou, eisai oti sixainomai se enan ellina.

            As a Greek, I am sorry for the Greek above.

  5. Kelime says:

    My favourite recipe for tarhana comes via Bosnia

    chopped onions sauteed in oil with a bit of garlic
    ground meat
    tomato puree or fresh tomato
    a touch of paprika
    sprinkle with dill or parsley

    Top off with a tablespoon of sour cream-optional

  6. @Ted Allen: this kind of disinformation makes foodies nuts. You could use all the flour in the universe and still not make a 'grain'. Sour trahana is a form of PASTA, not a grain. A grain is a naturally occuring endosperm.

    Also, PLEASE stop walking over and talking to chefs while they're working. If I were on the show and you horned in on my precious work time and safety that way, I'd tell you to get lost, and you'd deserve to hear it.

  7. Ney says:

    In my opinion, the best way to enjoy Trahana, is the simplest of all. Just boil 1 part trahana to two parts of water with salt on medium heat. The serve with a knob of butter and lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Yummy!

    It is also a very nice dish if you have an upset lower intestine :)

  8. Jim P says:

    Sour trahana is very good! You can use it in many things. In Greece, there is a pumpkin phyllo dessert with trahana. It's absolutely delicious. And, yes! Trahana is a pasta. The recipe is easy! My grandmother used equal parts bread flour and to semolina flour. Then you add goat's milk yogurt for sour trahana and goat's milk for sweet trahana (yes . . . . there are many varieties of trahana!). Kneed, then pull out walnut size pieces, flatten them out, allow them to partially dry out in the sun (covered with toule to avoid the bugs!). Once semi dry, process them in the food processor to get the consistancy of couscous. Dry completely and done! You can also use sour tomato juice instead of the yogurt and milk. Greeks use that for fasting periods where there is no dairy allowed.

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