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The festive classic of Şanlıurfa: Külünçe

04 October 20195 min reading

Cultural values and customs change from society to society. As it is the case in every society, there are regional and local differences in Turkey. It is without a doubt that meal and nutrition are an important part of cultures. Külünçe that is prepared in festive as a snack is widely consumed in Şanlıurfa and its surrounding places. Külünçe, which is the traditional food of Şanlıurfa and has become customary of Ramadan, is served with tea to visitors on the day of Ramadan Feast.

Külünçe that are baked towards the end of Ramadan are the most exciting days of my childhood and probably the best moments. I recall that I stayed awake through the night so that I can eat as many külünçe as I can since I have not eaten them for a year. Külünçe that was prepared our mothers together in those days is now baked at bakeries. Külünçe is known in the Southeastern Region of the country and is classic in Şanlıurfa; it is a part of religious festivals. When I visited Suruç district of Şanlıurfa this religious holiday and saw Külünçe, my childhood memories came back.

Societies’ way of life and cultural values represent this society’s customs and traditions that carry eating and drinking habit and nutrition culture. Climate conditions, variety of cultivated products, historical development, economic and cultural relations, belief structures, and ethnic status have also effect. Food and beverages offered by people during special occasions, religious or social gatherings are of great importance. Food is a cultural element that has individual and social aspects. Individuals have a sense of food and taste that shaped by the culture they live in. Every society develops its traditional food culture in the historical context and showed cultural heritage, habit, information, tradition, and behavior that repeat themselves and show continuity. Şanlıurfa, which has a rich history, has hosted many civilizations and is one of the important centers for all divine religions, is a city that has come to the fore with its food culture. Şanlıurfa has a rich culinary culture with the best examples of palatal delight.

Depending on the cultural habits and customs and traditions, many snacks are prepared in different parts of the country during the holidays, and some regions have their snacks. Prepared in the last days of the month of Ramadan in Şanlıurfa, külünçe has the prominence that was prepared and offered in religious holidays. In terms of its products and features, külünçe that was prepared to offer in religious holidays is similar to hard biscuit or cupcake that last long days. With its preparation and production, külünçe is a product of process in which the cooperation customs in terms of social, cultural, economic sense transforms into behavior type and reveals unity, cooperation, and solidarity. Külünçe was made jointly by the households before the holidays, but it is a kind of hard biscuit now made in pastry and bakery that keeps its freshness for a long time.

Külünçe is prepared in a way that its amount is enough to be consumed between Ramadan and Sacrifice Feast. It is prepared towards the end of Ramadan especially after the Kadir Night following the iftar and baked until the Sahur. Külünçe can be prepared as sweet and salty. But it is mostly preferred as sweet.

In addition to all family members, relatives are also involved in the preparation of Külünçe. The mother kneads the dough and then rolls it with a roller, and then the dough is divided into four by other family members. In the name of visual quality, we design Külünçe – we mostly used former thread cone used by my mother. Also, for the cooking period, we stick a fork into the dough so that heat can penetrate doughs. This was the fun part for us. The baker used to spread scrambled eggs on Külünçe sent to the bakery for baking. Baked Külünçe was placed on a cloth sheet laid in a suitable room in the houses and allowed to dry.

However, Külünçe that was prepared in bakeries is more popular. Külünçe requires some time to prepare that housewives cannot spare and houses are not suitable for Külünçe’s preparation. So, this picture paves the way for bakeries to have some earning with Külünçe. However, there are significant differences in quality, flavor, nutrient content, and durability between Külünçe baked in houses with traditional ways and Külünç made in factories.

It is a high energy source due to wheat flour, butter, and various spices which are the sine qua non of Külünçe. It is very rich in carbohydrates and fats. The nutritional value of Külünçe is enriched by mixing different flours and various oil seeds. Ingredients are flour, butter, yogurt, sourdough, black sesame, salt or sugar depending on the taste, water, egg, and külünçe dermeni – which is a mix sold by spice seller in the region. It contains mahaleb, cinnamon, powder cloves, and fennel.

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