Ayran

Ayran is a Turkish cold drink made from yogurt, water, and salt.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
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Fact: Ayran is rich in probiotics due to the fermented yogurt, making it beneficial for digestion and gut health.

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Basic Information

Ayran: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/ˈaɪræn/

Alternative Name(s)

Doogh (Persia); avamast, mastaw, çeqilmast dew, do (Kurdish); dhallë (Albanian); šinīna or eayran (Arabic); t’an, tan, or tahn (Armenian); chalap (Kyrgyz); айрян (Bulgarian); shlombey (Pashto); mashk (Luri, Kurdish, Persian), dūgh (romanized); daughe (Syriac); xinogala, xynogala or ariani (Greek); αΐραν (Pontic Greek); namkeen lassi (Pakistani); maskah (Afghanistan); shenina (Iraqi, Jordanian); daweh (Assyrian), ayrani (Cypriot)

Drink Type

Cold non-alcoholic beverages

Mealtime

Anytime
Origin and Region

Ayran: Origin and Region

Origin

Turkey

Continent’s Region

Western Asia, Southern Europe

Country’s Region

Nationwide Origin

Associated Region

Unspecified
Turkey Map
Popular Variation
Popular Variation
Popular Variation

Popular Ayran Variations

Ingredients and Preparation

Ayran: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Yogurt, water, and salt

Main Preparing Method

Blending

Preparation Process

Made by mixing yogurt with chilled or iced water, sometimes carbonated and seasoned with mint
A Deep Dive

Ayran: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

Ayran is considered the national drink of Turkey

Taste

Slightly sour and salty

Texture

Creamy, slightly bubbly

Aroma

Fresh, herbal (with mint garnish)

Color

Pale white

Serving Style

Often in glass

Serving Temperature

Cold or lukewarm (depending on preference)

Accompaniment

Grilled meat, rice

Occasions

On any occasions

Calories

42 calories, according to data of MyFitnessPal for 0.42 cup of ayran

Popularity

Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Jordan, Assyria, Kurdistan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe.

Popular Similar Drinks

  1. Chal
  2. Kumis
  3. Qatiq
  4. Chaas
  5. Lassi
  6. Borhani
  7. Calpis

Popular Dining Area

Markets, street vendors, households

Ayran is a traditional Turkish beverage made from yogurt, water, and salt. It’s a cold, savory drink known for its refreshing and slightly tangy taste.

Ayran Infographic

This drink is popular in various Middle Eastern, Central Asia, South Asia, Southern, and Eastern European cultures, often served with grilled meats or rice dishes.

Ayran is also valued for its digestive benefits and as a hydrating drink in hot climates. However, its presence is not limited to summers alone; Ayran graces Turkish tables throughout the year.

Ayran is more than just a refreshing drink; it is deeply embedded in the fabric of Turkish life. You’ll find it served everywhere, from bustling streets in Istanbul to serene rural areas.

I’ll lead you through an exploration of the dish’s features, its historical background, global popularity, ways of preparing it, different versions, health advantages, and disadvantages, and I’ll also compare ayran with kefir, address common queries, and discuss drinks that are similar.

Key Points

  • Ayran is considered a national Turkish beverage.
  • Ayran is popular in the Middle Eastern, Central Asia, South Asia, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe.
  • Ayran is often served with grilled meats or rice dishes.
  • Ayran is valued for its digestive benefits and as a hydrating drink in hot climates.
  • Ayran is a cold non-alcoholic beverage and is considered the national drink of Turkey.

Ayran Images

Where Was Ayran Invented?

Ayran, a traditional yogurt-based drink, is believed to have originated among Turkic peoples. These diverse ethnic groups, spread across a vast region from West, Central, East, and North Asia, as well as parts of Europe, share Turkic languages.

The Turkic peoples have a rich history and cultural heritage, with their languages and traditions influencing many regions.

Ayran, as a part of this cultural heritage, likely emerged from the culinary traditions of these Turkic groups.

This savory yogurt drink is not only a favorite in Turkey and Iran but also across the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.

How Is Ayran Consumed across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe?

Ayran is a traditional yogurt-based drink that is enjoyed in Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe, reflecting the diverse culinary cultures of these regions.

Central Asia

Ayran is widely consumed in Central Asia and has a significant cultural and culinary presence in the region. Here’s how it is typically enjoyed:

  • In Kazakhstan, ayran is a popular summer drink, often used as a base for soups with various groats.
  • In Turkmenistan, locals like to drink ayran with their meals or as a snack. It is believed to be beneficial for digestion and cooling the body down, which is important in Turkmenistan’s hot summers.
  • In Kyrgyzstan, ayran is a staple in both children’s and adults’ diets.
  • In Uzbekistan, ayran is a beloved summer beverage made by mixing cold, sour milk with carbonated or plain water, often with added salt, and is served chilled​​​​​​​​​​.

Similarly, in South Asia, ayran is enjoyed as a refreshing drink, known for its cooling properties, highlighting the drink’s versatility across different cuisines and climates.

South Asia

Below is how it is commonly consumed in South Asia:

  • In Afghanistan, ayran is known as dogh, maskah or shromba. It is popularly consumed alongside bolani, a type of Afghan flatbread, and other picnic foods.
  • In Pakistan, ayran is sometimes referred to as Namkeen Lassi, which is another variation of this refreshing drink.

Moving forward, let’s explore the consumption of ayran in the Middle East.

West Asia

Ayran’s simplicity, refreshing taste, and versatility make it a beloved drink across West Asia. Below is a simple breakdown:

  • In Turkey, ayran is a popular drink made by mixing yogurt, water, and salt, often served chilled with meals like kebabs. It’s especially favored in summer and varies in thickness across Turkey, with Susurluk noted for its bubbly Ayran.
  • In Iran, ayran (referred to as doogh, or mashk) is a cold fermented mix of curdled milk, water, and mint, with its name deriving from the Persian word “dooshidan” for milking.
  • In Armenia, a drink similar to ayran is called tan (or t’an, tahn), which is a yogurt-based drink made by mixing yogurt with water and salt.
  • In Azerbaijan, ayran is a popular traditional drink made from yogurt, water, and salt. Its recipe varies slightly across different countries, adapting to local tastes and traditions​​​​.
  • In Iraq and Jordan, Ayran is known as “shenina.” It’s a cold savory beverage, and its simplicity and health benefits make it a popular choice in the region. 
  • In Assyria, Ayran is known as “Daweh,” a savory yogurt drink made with yogurt, water, and salt, and sometimes dried mint for added flavor. It’s typically served cold with ice.
  • In Kurdistan, ayran (known as avamast, mastaw, mashk, çeqilmast dew, do) is a simple, yogurt-based drink made by mixing yogurt with water and a pinch of salt. It’s a refreshing, tangy beverage often served chilled, commonly consumed at breakfast.
  • In Syria, particularly in Aleppo, ayran is similarly prepared using plain yogurt and water, with an optional addition of salt and sometimes mint for flavor. 
  • In Lebanon, ayran is a popular, unsweetened yogurt-based drink often found in markets. 
  • In Israel and Palestine, ayran is closely related to a drink called “doogh”. It’s a popular choice in these regions, especially during the hot summer months, as it is both refreshing and nourishing.

Next up, let’s delve into how ayran is enjoyed across Southern Europe.

Southern Europe

Ayran is enjoyed in a variety of ways in Southern Europe, and here is how:

  • In Greece, it is known as xinogala, xynogala, or ariani, while in Cyprus, it’s referred to as ayrani. This drink is typically served cold and often accompanies meals, especially during breakfast and lunch.
  • In Albania, ayran goes by the name “dhallë” and is prepared with just yogurt, salt, and water. It is typically served cold and has a unique flavor profile, making it a popular drink in the region.

Let’s proceed to learn about the consumption patterns of ayran in Eastern Europe.

Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe, especially Bulgaria, ayran is commonly enjoyed as a refreshing, yogurt-based drink.

  • In Bulgaria, ayran is known as айрян. It is commonly enjoyed during summer, often served cold, and pairs well with dishes like banitsa.

Indeed, ayran is relished for its refreshing qualities and is often paired with traditional foods, offering an insight into the varied ayran preparation methods and its importance in culinary traditions across different regions.

What Is The Main Preparation Method of Ayran?

Below are the 2 main traditional preparation methods of ayran:

The Basic Method

The basic ingredients for making Ayran are yogurt, water, and salt. To prepare Ayran, these ingredients are mixed together. The yogurt is diluted with chilled or iced water to create a refreshing drink.

Sometimes, for added flavor, herbs like mint are included. In some variations, Ayran is also carbonated.

The Iranic Method

In traditional preparation methods, especially among various Iranic peoples, Ayran can be made straight from milk without using yogurt.

This is done by pouring milk into a waterskin, typically made from deer or sheep skin, and shaking it for hours. This process can be facilitated by using a wooden structure to suspend the waterskin with woolen strings.

In different regions, Ayran can have variations in its preparation and additional ingredients.

What Are Different Variations of Ayran?

Here are the variations of Ayran beverages from different countries, along with their characteristics:

Dogh

Made with yogurt, salt, mint, diced cucumbers, lime, and sometimes carbonated.

Dhalle

Prepared exclusively with yogurt, salt, and water, served cold.

Ayrani

Made with sour sheep yogurt, water, salt, and mint.

Kefir

Fermented milk from kefir grains, sour notes, and thick like yogurt.

Doogh

Cold and sour, carbonated or fizzy, made by fermenting yogurt.

Tan

In Armenia, the ayran-like drink “tan (or tahn)” has a rich history with legends claiming Russian doctors in the mid-19th century linked it to the long life of Caucasus people.

Namkeen Lassi

Made by mixing milk in a waterskin, typically crafted from deer or sheep skin, and shaking it for an extended period.

Chalap

Made by combining qatiq or suzma with salt and water.

Each variation of Ayran offers its own unique taste and texture, and many of these beverages also carry potential health benefits.

What Are The Health Benefits of Ayran?

Ayran, a traditional beverage, offers several health benefits due to its nutritious composition:

  • Hydration and Electrolyte Balance: Ayran is highly effective in hydration due to its high water content and electrolyte balance. It replenishes fluids lost through perspiration or dehydration, making it an excellent choice for hydration​​.
  • Nutrient-Rich: It is a good source of protein, B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin A. These nutrients contribute to overall health and wellness​​.
  • Probiotic Content: Being a fermented dairy product, ayran contains various strains of probiotics. These beneficial bacteria improve digestion and boost the immune system​​​​​​.
  • Dehydration Prevention: Ayran’s electrolyte content makes it useful in preventing dehydration, which can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, and in severe cases, even shock​​.
  • Cardiovascular and Weight Management Benefits: Regular consumption of ayran can lead to lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increased energy and mental clarity, as well as weight loss and improved body composition​​.
  • Digestive Health: The presence of natural probiotics, vitamins, and calcium in ayran aids in regulating the digestive system and strengthens the body’s natural defense mechanisms​​.

Within the benefits of ayran, it’s important to weigh the positive and negative sides of ayran.

Pros and Cons of Eating Ayran

Following is a list of advantages and disadvantages of ayran:

Pros

  • Nutritional Value: Ayran is rich in nutrients such as calcium, protein, and vitamins, especially those found in yogurt. This makes it beneficial for bone health, muscle maintenance, and overall well-being.
  • Digestive Health: The probiotics present in ayran can aid in digestion and promote a healthy gut microbiome, potentially reducing gastrointestinal issues like bloating and constipation.
  • Hydration: As a liquid beverage, ayran can help maintain hydration. It’s particularly refreshing in hot climates or after physical activity.
  • Low in Calories: When made with low-fat or non-fat yogurt, ayran can be a low-calorie drink, which is beneficial for weight management.
  • Culinary Versatility: Ayran can be used as a base for smoothies or as a complement to various dishes, adding a unique flavor and creamy texture.

Cons

  • Lactose Content: People who are lactose intolerant may have difficulty digesting ayran, as it contains lactose from yogurt.
  • High Sodium: Some commercial versions of ayran can be high in sodium, which might not be suitable for people with hypertension or those monitoring their salt intake.
  • Allergy Concerns: Individuals with a milk allergy should avoid ayran, as it is a dairy-based product.
  • Acquired Taste: The tangy, slightly sour taste of ayran might not appeal to everyone, especially those unfamiliar with fermented dairy products.
  • Quality Variability: The nutritional value and taste of ayran can vary depending on how it’s made, such as the type of yogurt used and the addition of any additives or preservatives in commercial versions.

To understand the unique qualities of ayran and how they compare to kefir, let’s delve into the key differences between these two traditional fermented dairy beverages after considering the pros and cons of ayran.

How Does Ayran Differ From Kefir?

Here is a comparative table highlighting the differences between ayran and kefir:

Now, let’s proceed to the commonly asked questions about ayran.

Ayran FAQs

Ayran is known for its calming effects on the nerves and can make a person feel happier and more comfortable. It stimulates the secretion of melatonin in the brain, which can lead to better quality sleep and natural treatment for insomnia and frequent nighttime awakenings​​​​.

Yes, Ayran is rich in protein. It is a yogurt-based beverage, making it a good source of high-quality protein. This protein content can aid in weight management and is beneficial for bone and muscle health​​​​​​.

Ayran can go bad as it is traditionally made with dairy products. In the refrigerator, Ayran can last up to 3 days​​.

Ayran is beneficial when consumed during hot summer days as it replenishes fluids and natural body salts lost through perspiration. It’s also a good choice after physical activities and can be consumed anytime as part of a balanced diet​

Yes, drinking Ayran at night can be beneficial. It can calm the nerves, reduce tension and anxiety, and stimulate the secretion of melatonin for better sleep quality. A glass of Ayran before bed can help a person wake up more rested and calm​​.

Similar Beverages of Ayran

Chal

Chal is a Central Asian beverage made by fermenting camel milk.

Kumis

Kumis is a fermented beverage made from mare milk in Mongolia and Central Asia.

Lassi

Lassi is a creamy Indian beverage made by blending yogurt, spices, and optional fruits with water.

Borhani

Borhani is a traditional Bangladeshi drink made from yogurt, green chili, mustard seeds, and herbs.

Calpis

Calpis is a Japanese soft drink made from water, dry milk, and lactic acid.

Adam Sam

Adam Sam

Senior Food and Drink Editor

Expertise

Food Writer & Recipe Developer, Recipe Tester, Bartender, Cooking-video Maker, Editor In Chief

Education

  • University of Gastronomic Sciences – Pollenzo (Italy) (MA Food Culture, Communication & Marketing)
  • Johnson & Wales University (US) (Baking and Pastry Arts)
  • Professional Bartender at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Adam Sam, an experienced food writer and recipe developer, is passionate about blending diverse culinary traditions, national dishes, and innovative beverages, showcasing his proficiency in both traditional and modern recipe testing.

As the Editor-in-Chief, he elevates culinary content from street food to fine dining, focusing on Western cuisine and types of drinks at azcuisines.com, and is professional in creating engaging cooking videos that simplify complex dishes and ingredients.

His passion for food is evident in his writing, where he uniquely merges various cultures, traditions, and contemporary trends, skillfully combining classic recipes with modern cooking methods.

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