In the Sahel Burkinabé and Timbuktu region, it is the women of the Tifaout N’ alkher groups – literally ‘Morning of Happiness’ – who are responsible for the production of goat’s cheese and products derived from it such as millet cream.
Goat’s cheese named Takammart (literally “cheese” in Tamahaq -Touareg – language), produced in the is eaten fresh, but most of it is stored after two days of natural drying for use during the long season when the animals do not produce milk.
During the lean season, between February and July, these cheeses are in fact used to prepare Tidah, a cream made from millet and dry cheese to compensate for the low food intake during the season when the animals are dry, i.e., do not produce milk. This cream is prepared by combining millet, traditional Tuareg cheese, dates and other different spices, depending on the community. As cheese is becoming rarer and rarer due to the decreasing milk production, the consumption of Tidah is also decreasing despite the fact that it is very nutritious, and its taste is always highly appreciated.
To prepare it, millet powder is mixed with dry cheese made from goat’s milk, dates, cumin, salt and other spices. The powdered mixture is then dissolved in water, or in milk or yoghurt if available. In case they are not, the cheese replaces the milk very well by providing energy and nutrition. This cream reduces thirst and is very nutritious, but it is not recommended to take it before bedtime. A very similar cream is also used to treat dehydration in adults and especially in children.
In the Tuareg and Peulh pastoral communities, milk has always been an essential part of the diet, but with drought due to the effects of climate change, goat milk production is becoming increasingly scarce, especially as the lean season is getting longer. Therefore it is important to support this local cheese production, a primary source of calcium, vitamins and essential dietary nutrients.