Timbuktu and Gao Katta Pasta Mali
Positioned on the border of the immense Sahara desert, Timbuktu evokes the mystery of ancient times. The art of writing has been known to this capital of glorious empires for over a millennium; precious manuscripts are stored in libraries and the homes of every family.
Timbuktu's culture is inextricably linked to certain factors, for example trade. Positioned between the desert and sub-Saharan Africa, it was a crossroads for the salt, gold and textile trades. The Timbuktu area was also part of the Songhai Empire between the 14th and 16th centuries, bringing an Arab-Islamic influence.
Local food is also an expression of this unique culture, with very refined dishes compared to the rest of the country's cuisine. Timbuktu women make different types of bread: wadjila, tukasu (steamed) and takula (flat loaves cooked in earth ovens found near the entrance of houses). They also produce luttre, beef sausage with garlic and spices.
Local wheat flour is used to make katta, a very unusual kind of pasta, shaped into thin, short threads. To obtain these tiny noodles, the women form a ball of dough and tear off small pieces before rolling them between two fingers, almost like spinning wool. The pasta threads are left to dry in the shade for a day, then toasted in a frying pan until they turn a brownish-yellow color. If not eaten immediately, they can be stored in bags or jars. Katta is traditionally cooked in a sauce based on dried fish, tomato, spices and mutton or beef, diluted with water. This sophisticated dish is prepared by women for important guests, as well as for special occasions, especially Muslim holidays such as Ramadan, Eid ul-Fitr and Mawlud (the celebration of Prophet Muhammad's birthday).
Launched in 2011 as part of a project with FAO and financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Presidium was set up to promote the production of katta pasta, but the overall project has a number of objectives. Firstly it aims to create a women's cooperative in Timbuktu, bringing together producers of katta as well as other artisanal products, especially different types of bread.
The Presidium will also work on the whole chain of production: identifying local wheat varieties, involving growers, mapping informal groups of katta-producing women already found in Timbuktu and Gao, creating suitable packaging and marketing katta at a local and national level.
Timbuktu and Gao
36 producers, joined in two informal groups
Saoudata Walet Aboubacrine
tel. +223 78775731
tel. +223 76028534 – +223 76023737