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.
But there’s another drink that the countries love of borders on obsession, and that is Dhalle. You will see Dhalle in every supermarket, shop, bar, or café (often at the expense of milk) and Albanians seem to be drinking it all day long, but what exactly is this strange white mixture you see everywhere?
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!
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.
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.
So, is Dhalle any good? It is certainly an acquired taste, but I love the salty edge and think it is great as a breakfast drink, as well as being the perfect accompaniment to barbequed meat at lunchtimes.
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 that I cemented my honorary citizenship!
The Street Food Guy is pro Dhalle!
Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.