Kobi, Gobi, Kowi, Andiroba
Touloucouma oil is extracted from a small tree that belongs to the Meliacae family, the Carapa species, of which only 11 varieties are known and whose classification and description are, unfortunately, not very clear. Widespread in all tropical areas, both in Africa and the Amazon areas, the Carapa species, whose seeds are rich in fatty acids, is evidently originally from the wet areas of Senegal and the Antillean forests. It is also known as Kobi in Mali, as Gobi or Kowi in Sierra Leone, and as Andiroba in Guinea Bissau. Touloucouma oil is, however, mainly found in Western African countries, especially those that are closest to the humid areas of the Atlantic coast.
The Carapa tree is quite small and produces a fruit made of a capsule with four or five valves, each of which contains between two and five seeds. The tree blooms between January and May, while the fruits begin to mature in May.
Carapa seed oil is extracted from seeds that must first be peeled. This operation is quite difficult in terms of time and energy, as the shell is very hard and must be crushed. The seeds are then finely crushed and heated until they release a yellow oil that has a characteristic scent and extremely bitter flavor. The liquid solidifies at temperatures below 25 degrees C.
The sale of this oil is mainly local. Generally, the cosmetic and pharmaceutical properties of the oil are exploited, in the cure of intestinal problems and against rheumatism, for example. The oil is also useful for skin problems and as a bug repellent, and is used both for people and for wood. In the kitchen, the use of Touloucouma oil is limited due to its bitter flavor. In some rural areas of northern Senegal, Carapa seeds are used in the same way as cola seeds.