In the western Pokot region of Kenya, a very unusual dairy product has been produced by village communities for generations: a yoghurt made of cow’s or goat’s milk, mixed with the ashes of the native cromwo tree. It is still prepared today by fermenting the milk inside dried hollow gourds, then adding the ash to give it an aromatic note and its unusual light grey color, and is often eaten together with a thick millet porridge.
Millet ugali – called pan in the Pokot language – is a simple preparation of flour and water that is fundamental to the diet of many populations across Eastern and Southern African. Ugali is the most widespread dish in Kenya, where it is generally prepared with maize flour, although some communities use sorghum or millet. The Indigenous Pokot community adopted millet into their diets when they discovered it is a more drought resistant crop.
Millet ugali is a common meal in the Pokot community, and is important for its high energy content and versatility. The most traditional way to enjoy it is to roll a piece of it into a ball and dip it into a sauce, stew or the yogurt. By making a depression in the ball with your thumb, it can also be used to scoop up food in the same way that flat bread is used in other cultures.
For 4 people
2 cups millet flour
2-3 cups water
Cooking time: 15 minutes
1. Bring the water to boil in a pot.
2. Add salt to taste to the water, if desired.
3. Slowly add the flour, stirring continuously.
4. Cook over a low heat until the mixture begins to separate from the sides of the pot.
5. Allow to cool, shape into a ball and serve with ash yogurt.
For more information about the Pokot Ash Yoghurt Presidium, which will be a guest at Cheese 2011, visit: www.slowfoodfoundation.org
Photo: Pokot Ash Yoghurt Presidium © Oliver Migliore
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