The food of the Sahara revolves around that which can be easily carried (millet and other grains) and the milk of goats and camels. In Nalut they are creating a new tradition by holding a Spring Festival the past 5+ years to raise funds to restore the ancient castle and revive the culture of the area. Ghat also has a festival and the EWP Tour Company provides the following description of what to expect a day in food to look like:
Fresh food, vegetables and fruitsare readily available in most Libyan settlements. Breakfasts in thedesert are generally fresh bread(local bread is excellent) with butter, cheese, jam or honey. A choice of hot drinks is available. Lunch is a mix of cold vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, olives, tomato and beans withtuna or sardines and cold boiled eggs. Fruit juice and tea are alsoprovided. After an evening coffee or tea with nuts and biscuits comes a three course supper of soup then a meal of potato, rice, kus-kus or pasta with vegetables and meat (often camel meat). Vegetarians would be provided with extra beans. Lastly some fruit salad and tea are served.
– Executive Wilderness Programmes
A single barley flour mound in a pool of tomato sauce that can have any variety of available meats and most likely potatoes and hard boiled eggs. It can also be served as dumplings in a stew for more of a family style presentation.
Millet is boiled with water to make a pap and eaten with milk or a heavy sauce. Wikipedia likens it to dishes of similar style but ugali (cornmeal) and fufu (yams). There are many Chinese and Indian varieties, but a dates are one of the foods of this region. In the US Red Mill does sell Hulled Millet commercially in many supermarkets.
Chunmee Tea 9366 (wholesale sales only) is a common marketplace staple and the cheapest grade of green tea available commercially. To have this same experience at home ask a local tea shop for the coarsest, cheapest variety. While Cunmee is available online (amazon.com) you may need to be heavy handed with the portions to achieve the same rich flavor.
A thick beverage made by pounding millet, goat cheese, dates, milk and sugar is served during festivals and eaten from an ornate carved ladle.
Millet flour pita style bread bread cooked in hot coals and sand.
Mb’atten is really a Libyan specialty dish, prepared on special occasions, celebrations and festivities, often with Kofta and couscous. It is made of slicing potato lengthwise into thin slices (about 3mm thick) but keeping each two slices joined together at the base, to form a sandwich, which will be stuffed with minced meat and herbs and then fried. The remaining mix of meat and herbs can be flattened into small burgers, dipped into white flour and then fried to make Kofta.
– Temehu Tourism Services (pictures of a wide variety of Libyan markets and foods – great overview post!)
Date filled small cookies
From Tobruk in the East to Ras Ajdir in the West the evening news has been dominated by images and sounds of the struggles of Libya. For all of the fear and blood shed we currently see there is an equally rich culture waiting to be explored. With so much of the news centered on the oil rich ports and the mass of humanity on the borders I would like to suggest a visit to “the other” climate… the dessert. Here is a look at two cities, part of the ethnic Berber minority, and some amazing food of the indigenous people in the Sahara to bring the news to your dinner table tonight.
Size – 18,000
Tribe – Nafousah, Western Berber tribe on the edge of the Nafusa mountains.
Size – 23,000
Tribe – Tuareg, Southern Berber tribe on the border with Algeria
28 February – Libya’s Berbers join the revolution in fight to reclaim ancient identity (Guardian UK)
1 March – Libyan desert town Nalut shakes off Gaddafi rule (Washington Post)
1 March – Canada Girds for substantial military role in North Africa (Globe and Mail)
2 March – Govt to bear all costs for Libya evacuation (My Republica, Nepal)
Images used by Creative Commons from: