Kraho Tocantins Sweet Potato Flour

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Kraho Tocantins Sweet Potato Flour

Sweet potato flour, produced by the Krahô (winners of the Slow Food Award for the Defense of Biodiversity in 2003) natives of the northeastern Tocantins, is considered by the anthropologists a unique part of the cultural heritage, which include a variety of traditional production techniques. The sweet potato is a traditional product of the krahô culture, and its flour has excellent taste qualities. Although its symbolic and gastronomical values, nowadays it is very difficult to find varieties of sweet potato, and the flour production is disappearing because only the ancient indigenous people know all the production techniques. The sweet potato flour is produced at the beginning of the dry season, between April and June. After being harvested, potatoes are washed, wrapped in banana leaves and grilled. Flour processing is entirely done by hand. Then, flour is dried for three days on a mat, called catú, made of the leaves of a local palm tree. After the drying process, the flour is preserved in a hand-made straw bag (called pacutú). The bags are made with the same palm leaves used for making the mats. The sweet potato flour can keep for up to one year, but even more. Its cooked as a cream, with water and mixed with cow’s or coconut milk and honey, or is used as an ingredient of a typical soup, together with a flour made by the fruit of Macaba, a local palm tree. Every year, during the Sweet Potato Festival, the Krahô natives celebrate the transition from the rain to the dry season. The Krahô are still living in their native area, the Cerrado, the Brazilian savannah. Nowadays, they are living in 16 villages in the homonym Reserve, which gives shelter to 2,500 Krahô natives belonging to Timbira ethnic group. During the seventies, the Krahô natives lost their traditions and the ethnic group nearly disappeared. So, ten years later, the leaders of the Krahô understood that the survival of their ethnic group depended on the recovery of their traditions. The foundation of the Associação das Aldeias Krahôs (Kapei), was the first step to recover their traditions and their cultural identity. Through a cooperative project realized with the Embrapa, the Krahô rediscovered the traditional seeds, maize, plants and the sweet potato. Sweet potato flour is now produced in 16 villages in the Krahô Reserve, in the Cerrado area.

Image: Archivio Slow Food

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Cereals and flours

Indigenous community:Krahô
Nominated by:Getulio Pinto Krahô