Carusel Tours
8 July 2021

Healthy Summer Drink from the Caucasus:
Sparkling Kefir Recipe

Healthy Summer Drink from the Caucasus: Carbonated Kefir or Ayran Recipe
Each time when the heat wave reaches us, we share with you the recipes of refreshing and cold dishes of various peoples of Russia. And now with scorching heat and temperatures above 30 °C in St. Petersburg and Moscow it is time to try the miraculous drink from the Caucasus, called Suusab. Let it cool us down and keep our stomachs healthy and full!

It will take you a couple of minutes to prepare Suusab and you will need only a few ingredients - kefir or ayran, sparkling mineral water and salt!

What is Kefir, Ayran or Tan?

Kefir and Ayran are very similar fermented drinks that are produced from milk with the help of particular type probiotic bacteria who live in small curd-like grains. They were originally made and kept in the waterskins. There are many versions on the origin of these grains, it seems that they might have derived from milk that was mixed with ferments from the goat's pancreas many centuries ago.

Many people with lactose intolerances can drink kefir, because in the process of fermentation lactobacillus bacteria neutralize lactose. I judge from my own experience, as I can't drink non-fermented raw milk, can't even smell it (I feel sick even thinking of it), and I feel great when consuming kefir, sour cream, cheeses and other fermented milk products of high quality.

Kefir and ayran are very beneficial for our health, especially if they are produced from good milk. They contain a lot of vitamins, several varieties of probiotic bacteria, amino acids and even a little bit of ethanol that is released during the fermentation process. All these elements help maintain the right balance of bacteria in our digestive system and improve its work, they also strengthen our immune system!
Kefir originated in the mountains of the Northern Caucasus
Kefir originated in the mountains of the Northern Caucasus, at the foot of Elbrus, and Karachays and Balkars, the local highlanders, owned the secret of this miraculous drink for many centuries. They delivered kefir to Kislovodsk and other spa resorts near Elbrus, but they never revealed its recipe nor left kefir grains in it, therefore it was not possible to reproduce it.

It is a detective story how the recipe of kefir was finally discovered by Russians. It happened in 1908, when Irina Sakharova, a charming young employee of one prominent milk farm, went to Kislovodsk with the mission to get Kefir grains from Karachay people.

The rumour says that for this purpose Irina visited local Karachai landowner, Bek-Mirza Baychorov, who really liked her, but did not give her the precious kefir grains. However, on her way back she was kidnapped by his people – the landowner wanted her to marry him and such practice of "kidnapping the potential bride" was very common in the Caucasus up until the recent times. She refused his proposal and she was rescued. The case subsequently went to court. Irina forgave Baychorov and only asked him for kefir grains in compensation for moral damage. She received the precious grains and from that moment kefir has been producing all over Russia and abroad. Bek-Mirza Baychorov and Irina became friends and the first distributors of kefir in Russia.

Ayran (Turkish) or tan (Armenian) is generally thicker than kefir, and it has a more defined taste. It is known under a dozen of other names in Iran, Central Asia and the Balkans. It was produced and consumed by various Turkic tribes, who distributed it to other regions during their migration from Central Asia.
Kefir can also be used for delicious summer Russian cold soups – okroshka and cold borsht. See our cold Russian soups recipes for more details!
Suusab - Summer Version of Kefir or Airan
Suusab - Summer Version of Kefir or Airan

Suusab is a delicious Karachay-Balkar drink prepared from kefir/ airan and naturally carbonated mineral water.

At the foot of Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Russia (5642 metres and still growing), there are hundreds of springs with naturally carbonated mineral water, called Narsan, that is extremely good for the health and digestive system. Narsan literally means the "drink of giants". Apart from health benefits, Narsan is also mild in taste. Therefore, it is no wonder that the local people came up with the idea of mixing up Kefir with Narsan.

For this drink, you can take any neutral carbonated mineral water that is not too strong in taste or flavour.
Ingredients

0,5 litre of full-fat kefir or airan

0,5 litre of sparkling mineral water, mild in taste

a pinch of salt

a handful of chopped dill (optional)
Kefir is available in many large supermarkets or Russian/Ukranian/Belorussian food shops across the world.
1. Pour cold full-fat kefir or airan in a jar.

2. Add cold sparkling mineral water in the equal proportion. If your kefir is not fat enough, add less mineral water. As soon as you start pouring mineral water, you will see a foam forming on top of your drink.
3. Add a bit of salt (better under-salt than over-salt), and whisk the liquid well to dissolve any lumps and salt.
You can also add fresh finely chopped dill in Suusab, it will give some refreshing notes to your drink. As with the salt, the less is more, don't add too much dill.
Your drink is ready to serve! If it is not cold enough, you can add some ice cubes. Keep your Suusab in a fridge and consume it fast, it is particularly delicious when sparkling!

Suusab is refreshing, good for your digestive system and substantial! It is a really good option for a snack on hot summer days and it will keep you up and going!

See our other homemade recipes and follow us for more insights.

Text Alexandra Lyukina
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