Chuko, barley conserved with butter, is traditional food of Oromia region in Ethiopia. It is traditionally made by women from barley powder mixed with a sufficient amount of distilled butter, along with ginger, onion, salt and spices. Chuko is easy to prepare in a short time, and is full of protein because of its high butter content. To make it, first barley is husked and then roasted over a fire. It is then pounded into a powder. Over this powder, a sufficient amount of butter and spices is added, and mixed to create the finished, piquant product. Individual portions of chuko vary between 2 and 5 kg. Chuko can be stored for up to a year without spoiling.
Chuko is both a part of the everyday diet and prepared for special events. It is popular among those on long journeys or away at university because of its long shelf life. It is also prepared for holidays and festivals. It is traditionally related with Oromo weddings, served by the bride’s parents to the groom’s best men. Chuko is mainly produced for home consumption, but can also be found at local markets.
Production of chuko is totally dependent on the production of barley. Therefore, in times of drought or bad harvests, production subsequently decreases. It is also becoming more difficult for many families to prepare due to the high price related to the large quantity of butter required. It is also slowly losing its importance related to wedding customs, and is being replaced by imported products new to the market, meaning fewer people are left who know how to and continue to prepare chuko.