Buna Qalma

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Buna qalma is a special preparation of local coffee beans that is unique to the Oromo and Guji peoples, particularly in the southern Oromia area of Ethiopia. Its preparation is not especially difficult. Farmers harvest coffee beans and dry them in the sun for a few days to reduce their astringency (buna qalma can also be made with ripe red coffee beans, but the quality of the finished product is not as high). Then the beans are roasted in butter in a pot called kelo buna. The beans are not winnowed and do not have their outer cover removed, but are cut at the tips to allow air and butter inside the beans. They are roasted for 30-40 minutes. When the buna qalma is ready, it is poured into traditional wooden bowl, and served with sugar or honey, more butter, and fresh cow or occasionally camel or gat milk. It can also be served in normal coffee cups or traditional cups called budunu. Prepared buna qalma can be kept for years without refrigeration, and takes on a special aroma with aging. It is generally served in the mornings, but can also be consumed throughout the day.   Buna qalma holds a special place in Oromo culture, particularly among the Guji people. It is used as a food in rituals and ceremonies such as weddings, holidays, at the end of funerals, births and graduations. It is used as an instrument to bless the traditional leader (the Abba Gadaa), who is tasked with being loyal and committed to his communities during his eight-year term of governance. These leaders also serve buna qalma to those who seek a blessing. It is also prepared when praying to Waaqaa (God) to bless the community and the land and elements, and is prepared as a special gift to guests as a high symbol of respect. Local tradition says that one cannot come across buna qalma being prepared without tasting it, but if too busy, that person can also smear the butter being used in the preparation on his or her face and leg and smell the butter, which is also considered a form of consuming the buna qalma.   Buna qalma is mainly consumed in homes for personal, family and community consumption, but it can also be found sold in local markets. Traditionally, only butter may be used in the preparation, though increasingly people are making buna qalma with lower quality oil, due to decreased butter production from cow’s milk related to worsening climate conditions for raising the livestock. Buna qalma also faces competition from imported foods, and a cultural tendency to consume these “modern” foods instead of making buna qualma. Furthermore, the spread of Christianity in the region is having a negative effect on the continued practice of indigenous rituals associated with making buna qualma. 

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Indigenous community:Oromo and Guji
Nominated by:Golocha Balli Gobena