Taste of Kenya: Zebu milk yogurt with ash
In my article dated 25 April 2011, SOSCuisine.com in Africa!, I gave an all too brief account of my study trip to Kenya.
I say “all too brief” because I realize that I didn’t even touch upon the traditional cuisine of the country! I intend to remedy the oversight through this article, because the Kenyan foods that I discovered during my course are absolutely noteworthy!
While passing through western Kenya, we stayed amongst the Pokot community, an ethnic group of shepherds who not only introduced us to African dance, but also made us discover their specialty: zebu milk yogurt with ash!
This yogurt is obtained in the following manner: “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.” (SLOW FOOD FOUNDATION. Pokot Ash Yoghurt Kenya)
Exotic though this yogurt may seem to the taste buds, I liked it a lot. Indeed, the ashes give it a slightly “smoky” flavor that is absolutely delicious! For those who like to compare, imagine a yogurt drink flavored with smoked Gouda 😉
Although it’s been a year since my study trip, I’d like to touch upon to this topic again, because a documentary on this community and their flagship product will be presented in the “Culinary Cinema” (Kulinarisches Kino) programme at the Berlinale, the well-known Berlin International film festival!
So I suggest that all those who would like to immerse themselves in the world of the Pokot people for 23 minutes should watch the video “Pokot Ash Yogurt”.
Every journey is an occasion to discover new landscapes, new cultures… and also new flavours. Enjoy!
A special thanks to Cecilia Auxilia for the photos.