'Elimu Asilia' is the Swahili equivalent for indigenous knowledge (IK). It acts as a common platform where National Museums of Kenya (NMK) libraries working with NMK researchers and volunteers interact with local communities and children in the collection, preparation, preservation, sharing, exchange and dissemination of IK on culture, environment, health and history for the memory of our nation for sustainability and eco-social development. For more, please visit http://www.elimuasilia.org.
Friday, 28 February 2014
MUTHOKOI: A KAMBA DELICACY
Muthokoi (maize without husks) is
a dish among the Kamba community from the Eastern part of Kenya. It entails
removing the outer skin of the maize grains by using a pestle ‘muthi’ and a wooden mortar ‘ndii’.
Pounding – ‘kukima
The traditional way of making muthokoi was done as follows :-
Dry maize was taken from the granary ‘ikumbi’ and put in a large half calabash ‘nzele’ or a plaited tray used for sifting ‘lungo’. To sieve the dirt from the maize a second large calabash
was used; while standing where wind was
Ndii and Muthi
The maize was then put in a mortar ‘ndii’, some water was added to soften it then a wooden pestle ‘muthi’ was used to do the pounding. The
pounding can take about one hour; sometimes it’s done by two people at the same
time to make it faster. As the pounding continues, the maize starts drying and
more water is added until the husks are completely removed from the grains Once the pounding ‘kukima
mbemba’ is over, the maize is removed from the mortar ‘ndii’and poured on a sack and left to dry in the sun. After drying,
it is placed in a large half calabash and the sieving process is done again by
using two half calabashes ‘nzele’.
It should be noted that for the muthokoi to cook nicely all the outer skin of
the maize (makole) must be removed
by sieving against the wind.
Once this is over, the grains are separated by
selecting carefully the split ones from the whole ones, then the split ones are
put aside and are called ‘nzenga’.
split maize ‘nzenga’ can be cooked as rice. The de-husked grains are the ones
cooked as muthokoi.
A large family will need two to three poundings to cater for
everyone. This meal can be taken as lunch, supper and the leftovers can be used
during breakfast the following morning with yorghurt ‘yiia ikaatu’.
In a clay pot ‘mbisu’ put your muthokoi, add beans ‘mboso’, cowpeas ‘nthooko’,
pidgeon peas ‘nzuu’ or any other legumesand
add some water. Using the traditional fireplace; a three stone fireplace ‘yiiko ya ngu’ light up the fire and
place the pot on the three stones. Let it cook for about 2 – 3 hours. As it
cooks, keep adding more water. When it is about to stick at the bottom of the
pot, add more firewood, lest the fire ebbs out. When thoroughly cooked, drain
out excess water ‘kithoi’ by tilting
the pot a bit. This is called ‘kukeluka
mbisu’. The excess water ‘kithoi ‘ is
very nutritious. It is usually given to babies. One can also use it to add onto
the already served meal if it becomes dry. At this juncture one can opt to add
pumpkins ‘malenge’or ‘mongu’ a species of pumpkin plant, then
mash using a big wooden spoon ‘mwiko’. During our ancestors’ time, there was no salt, so
some soil called (kithaayo) which
was collected from the river was mixed with water and sieved. The result was a salty liquid which was added
to the muthokoi meal. The serving was done on a half calabash then ghee ‘mauta ma ngombe’ was added to make it
tasty or delicious. Spoons carved out of a guard ‘kikuu’ were used for eating
or one could use their bare hands to eat.
For preservation, the muthokoi was wrapped in
banana leaves and put in another half calabash ‘uwa’ then placed on a wooden rack which was and is still used for
drying utensils ‘utaa’. It could
last for almost a week without going bad. Nowadays, the process of shelling the
maize is done by machines in urban towns but in the rural areas the traditional
method is still being used. People have modernized the cooking by frying it using/adding
the following ingredients:
Coriander leaves and other
Muthokoi was mainly cooked during traditional weddings or
during bride price negotiations ‘ngasya’
to feed the visitors. Families could also cook it in absence of any occasions.
In some areas in Ukambani, it is still used
as the cost of living has tremendously shot up and most families substitute
it for rice which has become expensive for many households from the rural areas.