Tchotou Mustard

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Tchotou Mustard

Nèrè Mustard

Among the people of northern Togo, in particular the Kabyè people, the néré grain has a great value as it is an important ingredient for a special condiment called tchotou. The grain is taken from the néré tree (Parkia biglobosa) also known as the locust tree. The seeds are composed of fats (29%), protein (35%) and carbohydrates (16%), and are a good source of fat and calcium for rural dwellers. The pods of the tree are pink in the beginning and turn dark brown when fully mature.   To prepare this mustard, the women collect the néré fruits, locally known as soutou, and leave them to dry. Once dried the fruits are peeled, they are dried again then crushed. Then they are sifted to separate the powder from the grains. Then, the grains are washed and dried. After this process the women use some dead néré wood for to create a fire in order to prepare these grains. After they have been cooked, they are ground using sand from the river to separate the grains from their coating. Later, they are carefully washed, spin-dried then crushed in a traditional mill and mixed with the néré sifted ash used to cook the grains. The mix is covered and kept to ferment for 24 hours. After this period, the traditional tchodou mustard is put in a bowl and dried in the sun for a week, before being ready to be used.   A Kabyè proverb says that: “Having a field without néré on it is like preparing pasta without sauce.” Pasta is a staple food in Togo especially for the Kabyè. Made with corn or sorghum, it is always accompanied by a sauce seasoned with néré mustard. This is why this saying is a good example of the importance of mustard in the life of Kabyè people. In the past néré grains were also used as barter. Today these grains are still considered very important.   Today, about 300 kg of tchotou is produced in the Kara region per year, precisely in the prefecture of Kozah, Binah and Doufelgou. It is sold in local markets and made for home use. However, néré grains are increasingly scarce because of deforestation and conversion of fields to agriculture for soy or peanuts. The Kabyè people who still prepare tchotou mustard using néré seeds have been forced to reduce the quantity produced and increase the price, leading to people buying cheaper imported products.

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Production area:Kozah, Binah and Doufelgou prefectures

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Spices, wild herbs and condiments

Indigenous community:Kabyè