Rukuri

Ark of taste
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Traditionally, Gikuyu men have kept beehives in their gardens to harvest the honey to use as a sweetener, as medicine, to make traditional beer (called muratina), and as a food preservative to make products like rukuri. To make rukuri, honey is harvested and stared in wooden containers. When an animal is slaughtered, it is then cut into pieces, roasted, and dipped in the honey. It is a traditional dish of the Kikuyu people that can be prepared with meat from sheep, goat, or cattle. Normally, the roasted meat pieces would be dipped, then removed to be stored in a raised, grass-thatched wooden vessel called ikumbi. The honey acts as a way to preserve the meat without refrigeration by drawing out moisture. It also improves the flavor of the meat and adds a complementary sweet flavor. Less commonly, roasted meat might be dipped in honey and eaten right away, without time in storage. However, rukuri that has been aged for a few days is considered to have a better flavor.   Being a preservation method, rukuri was once eaten on a daily basis. However, during special occasions, such as celebrating the payment of a dowry or other rites of passage, special pieces of meat would be dipped into freshly harvested honey to prepare for guests at the special occasion. There is a Kikuyu saying associated with rukuri, ni nyama kana ni rukuri? which means, “is it just a meat, or is it rukuri?” Another saying is used when someone tries to hide something or information from another person, when one might ask, kari rukuri? meaning, “is it rukuri?” to imply that whatever is being hidden must be of great value. Cama ta rukuri is another saying, which means “as sweet as rukuri.” This collection of sayings shows the importance of this product among the Agikuyu community, and that it is considered irreplaceable by other products.   Rukuri is mainly made in the area of Githunguri in central Kenya. The quantity made depends on the amount of honey and the pieces of meat available to the producers. It is made in the home for personal and family consumption, but not found for sale. While rukuri is considered a special treat, fewer and fewer individuals still make it today. Many have adopted other methods of preservation, such as refrigeration. In addition, the cost of procuring beehives and beekeeping materials is high, so fewer people keep their own bees. A limited knowledge about this traditional food preservation method among younger generations means that this typical Kenyan food may soon be lost. 

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Territory

StateKenya
Region

Central

Other info

Categories

Cured meats and meat products

Indigenous community:Gikuyu