Drinking Dhalle in Albania is very much a thing!! Albania has a lot of national treasures, it makes some of the best and most underrated wine in the region, Tirana beer isn’t all that bad, and as previously mentioned I am quite a fan of Albanian Raki.
Why the hell was I in Albania?
I am so glad you asked! I ended up living full time in Albania whilst we were working on a remake of the classic horror flick Castle Freak. My job was as second 3rd assitant director, a job much less glamorous than it sounds. It did though give me the chance to live in Albania, which was more than fine with me.
To see what a second second does click here
To read about remaking Castle Freak click here
Dhalle the national drink of Albania? (after Raki)
But there’s another drink that the countries love of borders on obsession, and that is Dhalle. You will see it in every supermarket, shop, bar, or café (often at the expense of milk) and Albanians seem to be drinking dhalle all day long, but what exactly is this strange white mixture you see everywhere?
What is Dhalle?
Dhalle is from the doogh family of drinks, that I was blissfully unaware are hugely popular in the Balkans, the Middle East, and to such an extent in Turkey that Mr. Erdogen decreed it the national drink of the country! You see he is not very keen on his citizens drinking alcohol the big party poop!
Doogh or Dhalle as the cool kid’s call it is basically yogurt that is mixed with ice-cold water, sometimes carbonated, and with salt, pepper, and even mint. Many people have thus decreed it to merely be watered down salty yogurt. In some respects it is a bit of a watered down yogurt, but there really is much more to this national treasure than meets the eye!
What’s the history of the drink?
Historically the drink was invented in Turkey over 1000 years ago and was drank by the nomadic Turks, and exported to the realms of its empire, hence its popularity in the Balkans and Albania. It is alleged that the invention occurred because the Gokturks yogurt tasted so bad that it had to be watered down to be drinkable.
Regardless of whether that last tid-bit is true it certainly spread throughout the old Ottoman Empire. Nowadays each country has their own take on it to an extent, we are introducing the Albanian version!
Is it any good?
So, is drinking Dhalle any good? It is certainly an acquired taste, many foreigners are not keen on it at all. In fact from the crew I think I was the only one to grow an affinity to it.
Personally I love the salty edge and think it is great as a breakfast drink. Aside rom breakfast it goes great as accompaniment to meat. This works out fairly well as Albanian cuisine features a lot of spicy meat. The texture of dhalle is perfect to clean your palate after some spicy kofte!
Amazing Albanian Cuisine
But! One of the things I love most about Dhalle is it represents really getting involved with the wonderful Albanian cuisines. One day my Albanian friend saw me drinking it (none of the rest of the foreign crew touch the stuff) and said “You are drinking Dhalle? You are real Albanian now”. But it was when he saw me drink the Raki (in one go) that I cemented my honorary citizenship!
The Street Food Guy says give it whirl!