Timbuktu and Gao Katta Pasta Mali
Positioned on the border where the lands inhabited by humans, plants and animals end and the immense desert of the Sahara begins, Timbuktu evokes the mystery of ancient times. The art of writing has been known to this capital of glorious empires for over a millennium, and precious manuscripts are stored in libraries and the houses of every family.
Timbuktu's culture is inextricably linked to certain factors: trade, for example (Positioned between the desert and sub-Saharan Africa, it was a crossroads for the salt, gold and textile trades) as well as the important role of women (Its magnificent sand mosque was funded by a pious and rich woman). The Timbuktu area was also part of the Songhai Empire between the 14th and 16th centuries, bringing an Arab-Islamic influence.
The local food is also an expression of this unique culture, with very refined dishes compared to the rest of the country's cuisine. Timbuktu women make different types of bread: wadjila, tukasu (steamed) and takula (flat loaves cooked in earth ovens found near the entrance to the houses). They also produce luttre, beef sausage with garlic and spices.
Local wheat flour is used to make katta, a very unusual kind of pasta, shaped into thin, short threads. To obtain these tiny noodles, the women form a ball of dough and then tear off small pieces and roll them between two fingers, almost like spinning wool. The pasta threads are left to dry in the shade for a day, then toasted in a frying pan until they turn a brownish-yellow color. If not eaten immediately, they can be stored in bags or jars. Katta is traditionally cooked for a few minutes in a sauce based on dried fish, tomato, spices and mutton or beef, diluted with water. This sophisticated dish is prepared by women for important guests and on special occasions, especially Muslim holidays like Ramadan, Eid ul-Fitr and Mawlud (the celebration of Prophet Muhammad's birthday).
Launched in 2011 as part of a project with FAO and financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Presidium was set up to promote the production of katta pasta, but the overall project has a number of objectives. Firstly it aims to create a women's cooperative in Timbuktu, bringing together producers of katta as well as other artisanal products, especially different types of bread.
The Presidium will also work on the whole chain of production: identifying local wheat varieties, involving growers, mapping informal groups of katta-producing women already found in Timbuktu and Gao, creating suitable packaging and marketing katta at a local and national level.
Timbuktu and Gao
36 producers, joined in two informal groups
Saoudata Walet Aboubacrine
tel. +223 78775731
tel. +223 76028534 – +223 76023737