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.