Pokot Ash Yoghurt Kenya
In the Kenyan district of West Pokot, communities in the villages of Tarsoi, Tartur, Lition and Chaunet have traditionally produced an unusual food product, a yoghurt made using milk from cows (crosses between local breeds and zebù) or goat, mixed with the ash of the native cromwo tree. Known in local dialect as mala ya kienyeji or kamabele kambou, ash yoghurt has been extremely important in the diet of the Pokot community, and was one of the staple foods for herdsmen looking for pasture. Livestock farming is now not so widespread and there is less milk available, so there has been a significant reduction in the production of the yoghurt. In addition the community has lost pride in their traditional food culture. The yoghurt is now only produced by a few families for their own consumption and any surplus is only occasional sold at local markets.Ash yoghurt is produced from raw milk and has a thick but fluid homogeneous consistency. Milk from cows and from goats is not mixed but processed separately to make two different types of yoghurt. The cow's milk yoghurt is for men while the goat's milk yoghurt, a product with intense flavor and recognized for its nutritional value, is for women and children. The flavor also varies according to the duration of fermentation. The animals are pasture fed and milked manually twice a day. The milk is collected in a calabash, a traditional empty gourd, and left for at least three days. The gourd has a hard skin and to make a container it is hollowed out, dried and smoked on the wood of the cromwo, the same tree used for the ash. When the whey has been drained off, the gourd is closed again and agitated with regular movements. When the yoghurt is ready, the ash is added, providing disinfectant properties, a unique aromatic taste and a characteristic bright grey color.
The Presidium was created in 2009 following a research study on traditional foods in the Molo area carried out by students at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. The approximately 100 Presidium producers already belonged to the Tarsoi Association. With assistance from technical experts, the Slow Food Foundation is helping the producers to improve product quality and quantity by optimizing each stage of production-from animal health and milking to processing and preserving the milk. It is planned to set up and equip a communal workshop. The Presidium is also working to increase awareness of the product in the district and neighboring areas and to give producers opportunities for international exchanges to share information. In 2009 four producers attended the international Cheese event in Italy followed by a week's training on animal hygiene and milk in Piedmont. In April 2010, Italian veterinarian Mauro Cravero visited the Presidium producers to examine the production chain and make suggestions for improvement. The producers are now finalizing their production rules.
Villages of Tarsoi, Tartur, Lition and Chaunet, West Pokot
Presidium supported by
Stiftung Drittes Millennium
About 26 producers members of Self Help Group
Peter Wasike Namianya
tel. +254 711219873