Turkmen! A Traditional Nomadic Community of Central Asia
Turkmen is a native community of central Asia, predominantly live in Turkmenistan but a sizable number is also found in Afghanistan, Iran, followed by Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Turkmens are very traditional and have strong connections with livestock and animal agriculture. They are a strong and long traveling nomadic clan of Central Asia and the custodian of the precious sheep, goat, cattle, and camel genetic resources. A major portion of the community is settled in the towns and some are in transition but still, a sizable portion of the community still loves livestock keeping in nomadic style. The community is practicing camel nomadism for ages and owning a very famous and good milking camel breed, the Aravan.
Importance of Camel Milk in Turkmen Community
The Turkmen Cameleer Nomads love camel and camel milk. They, like other camel keepers of the world, have their own traditional camel milk product called CHAL written in Turkmen is CALY.
The author reported this story from the Northeaster Iran, dominated by the Turkmen nomads. For more interest, one can read the country camel report of Iran, prepared by Mahnaz Salehi https://arkbiodiv.com/2016/06/19/the-multipurpose-camels-of-iran-world-camels-day/amp/
The Turkmen cameleers use fresh camel milk to prepare Chal. It is actually sour camel milk prepared traditionally. It is the same as Shubat in Kazakhstan. After preparation, it has a white color like other milk products but having a strong sour taste. Chal is a summer staple food, the nomads eat bread while taking sips of the Chal. They think Chal is cold in nature and provide a cold environment to the body from the inside. The traditional cameleers also consider Chal as anti-infectious and virucidal.
Also, a camel farm with the size of 500 Arvan camels is producing Chal, Agaran, and cream with the brand name Gudratly önüm. https://business.com.tm/post/4301/turkmen-farm-supplies-fresh-camel-milk-to-consumers. So, it means that Chal is not only made by the Turkmen community but also prepared even at a larger scale in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
There are certain processes, which are considered as the major steps to make the Chal. The processes are given below in ensuing lines.
- The fresh camel milk is sourced in a skin bag, mostly sheep or goat skin or a ceramic jar (a modernized container).
- Add already soured milk (more old, more and more strong culture to make Chal). The sour milk maybe from camel or other livestock, mainly cow, followed by goat and sheep.
- The mixture is stored in the container as mentioned above, get airtight, shaken to properly mix and store to get fermented.
- In the meanwhile fresh camel milk is added on different intervals for the next 2 to 3 days. But the chal can be used after the 8 hours of fermentation, though more time means more stronger and delicious Chal.
- Camel milk fermentation needs longer time period then the other milks, i.e. the cow milk needs 4 hours to be fermented but for the same amount the camel milk needs double time, 8 hours at 30 centigrade temperature.
- If the weather is cooler, then it needs more time to be fermented as camel milk needs more than 72 hours at 10 C temperature to be fermented.
- If strong and highly sour milk is used for fermentation, then a thick layer appear on the surface of the Chal, which is known as AGARAN (fermented fat).
- After the removal of the AGARAN, the leftover is called as Chal which is also called DOUGH in Persian.
- But if we want it be sourer and more tasty we can leave it again for 4 or 8 hour s in 20 to 25 c to be more carbonated.
This fermented product of camel milk is very beneficial for gut and colon health; reduces cholesterol and high blood pressure and even has anti-diabetes effects. Also, like mentioned above, the nomadic community believes that it works as anti-infectious and antiviral. https://camel4milk.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/value-of-camel-milk-in-central-asian-traditional-medica/amp/
You can see the composition of plain camel milk and Chal which will give you more clarity about the value of the Chal. The link is provided here to know further about the Chal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chal