| Food Chain No. 13 - November 1994 |
Sudan has about 60 different kinds of fermented food products prepared from a wide range of substrates or bases in which fermentation takes place. Of these, half are made from sorghum or millet which have been an important part of Sudan's food culture for thousands of years.
Among the most common sorghum foods in Sudan are a fermented stiff porridge called aceda, a fermented bread kissra, and a drink abreh. In all cases, preparation of each product by women entails a complicated multi-step process.
THE PRODUCTION OF ABREH
Sudanese women prepare abreh, a traditional and popular non-alcoholic fermented sorghum drink, usually for the holy month of Ramadan Abreh is made in the form of fine flakes which are added to cold water, sweetened to taste and drunk.
The grains are first washed and dehulled using a wooden mortar and pestle. The peeled grains are then washed again. They are then wet milled using a traditional mill stone to give a material known as derish which is allowed to ferment. After 24 hours fermentation, wet milling continues for one to three days until a very fine paste is obtained. When all the abreh ajin (dough) has been wet milled, part of it is cooked into a thin porridge and the porridge is left to cool for 24 hours. It is then added back to the remaining ajin bulk with some spices, such as black cumin.
After this a second stage of fermentation continues for 3 to 6 days until the stiff ajin dough thins and becomes liquid. About 50ml of this very thin batter is poured onto a doka (ceramic pan), covering the whole surface. It spread out as a thin film ,baked, and finally swept into a container. Because the sheet very thin it breaks into flakes when it swept off the hot plate
ADVANTAGES OF ABREH
The drink abash, which has a fresh so taste, fulfils the role of a nutritious thin quencher in the hot climate of Sudan. The Sudanese correctly believe that a drink of abreh is a healthier way of satisfying thirst than plain water. In addition to being nutritious, the acidity developed during the fermentation of sorghum decreases the risks involved in using contaminated watt Moreover, the flakes are lightweight and easily transportable for travellers.
Fermentation is a valuable method preserving food for times of scarcity, and abreh, like many fermented food products, can be stored for a long time. Fermentation also improves the digestibility of a food enabling women to produce high value additions to the diet In the Sudanese context, the traditional knowledge developed by women of fermented foodstuffs has played an important role in coping with periods of famine. Unfortunately this traditional knowledge is little recognised by international aid agencies. Generally relief operations are organised based on imported foodstuffs.