Mafura Oil

Ark of taste
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Munhantsi, óleo de mhova

Mafura (Trichilia emetica) is a fruit, which grows mostly in the wild, on a plant usually growing in coastal areas of southern Mozambique and in some areas of South Africa, but it can also be cultivated. The mafura fruits, especially the variety with white berries, picked between December and March, is used to make oil (locally named munhantsi or mhova oil). This oil is exported to other countries.

Its commerce reached a maximum level in the 1950ies. After that, the Mozambican war of independence between 1964 and 1974 and the civil war between 1977 and 1992 reduced exportation, causing the almost complete disappearance of its commerce and thus the collapse of its revenues for the country as well as the local communities producing it.

In Mozambique mafura oil is the only type used for cooking food.
When produced traditionally, the tree’s fruits are dried in the sun for a couple of weeks and then soaked in water for two days, to soften them and make it possible to separate the pulp from the seeds. At this point, an oily milky liquid is obtained, which is filtered to eliminate the seeds. It is then cooked for three hours in big pots, until the liquid separates into a clear emulsion on the surface (the oil) and a dense residue on the bottom of the pot (the residual pulp called xibehê or massa da mafura). Xibehê can be mixed with vegetables and eaten together with xima (a type of corn or cassava polenta), with rice or cassava. Mafura oil is used to amalgamate manioc flour and to cook foods in general.
The seeds of the fruit, on the other hand, are used to make a butter, similar to cocoa butter, which is not deemed edible as it is too bitter, but ideal for producing soaps and candles, or to heal wounds. The leaves cure diseases of the digestive tract. The fruit can also be eaten fresh, or mixed with milk or water to obtain a sauce eaten with cassava, meat or fish.

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Indigenous community:Magunze
Nominated by:Helena Carlisto Mahumane