CHAL~ A Traditional Camel Milk Product of Turkmens’ Cameleers

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 the livestock and animal agriculture. They are a strong and long traveling nomadic clan of the 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 love livestock keeping in nomadic style. The community is practicing camel nomadism since ages and owing a very famous and good milking camel breed, the Aravan.

Importance of Camel Milk in Turkmen Community

The Turkmen Cameleer Nomads love camel and the camel milk. They, like other camel keepers of the world have their own traditional camel milk product called CHAL written in Turkmen is CALY.

Chal, the fermented camel milk production, traditionally prepared by Turkmen nomads.

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/

CHAL

The Turkmen cameleers use fresh camel milk to prepare Chal. It is actually a sour camel milk prepared traditionally. It is the same as Shubat in Kazakhstan. After preparation, it has 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 cold environment to the body from inside. The traditional cameleers also consider Chal as anti-infectious and vurucidal.

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 larger scale in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

Making method

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.
Turkmen Cameleers with their famous Aravan Breed

This fermented product of camel milk is very beneficial for gut and colon health; reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure and even it has anti diabetes effects. Also, like mentioned above, the nomadic community believe 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

ITUTI~The Traditional Milk Product of Ethiopia

During the traditional production of ituti, fresh milk is collected into a well-smoked fermented vessel, called gorfa. Gorfa is woven from fibers of selected plants into a lidded container with a capacity up to three liters.

I shall try in this series to write about the traditional milk products from the different parts of the world, especially from the traditional livestock breeds. As a first piece of information, I introduce you with the Ituti, a fermented camel product from Ethiopia.

ITUTI

It is a staple food, white color, and a very solid appearance that resembles that of traditional white cheese. It has attractive texture and flavor and has a reasonable shelf life at ambient temperature, making it one of the most desired food in the region. Ititu consumed as a side dish with traditional porridge or thin-baked cereal chips. It can also be consumed as food or drink alone. It is considered as one of the special foods and served to many respected guests as well as to weaning-age children and the elderly.

During the traditional production of ituti, fresh milk is collected into a well-smoked fermented vessel, called gorfa. Gorfa is woven from fibers of selected plants into a lidded container with a capacity up to three liters. A new gorfa is washed with hot water, air-dried; and just prior to use it is rinsed with fresh milk and then smoked for a few minutes with pieces of burning Acacia nilotica (or other plants) placed inside. The lid of gorfa is treated with leaves of Ocimum basilicum for cleaning and imparting desirable flavor to the product. A small volume of milk (up to 300 ml) is added to the gorfa and is allowed to ferment naturally.

Gorfa, the milk container in Africa.

When the milk coagulates, whey is removed daily by a wooden pipette after which an additional volume of fresh milk is added. The process of whey removal and addition of fresh milk is repeated several times until the product is concentrated enough and is ready for consumption. The curd and the lids are occasionally checked visually for mold and any mold growth on the surface of the curd is removed. The lid is also washed with hot water and smoke is applied to it before replacing it.

If the product is stored for a long time without refrigeration this can lead to over-souring and risk of spoilage, due to the high growth of surface mold. This can be controlled by adding an amount of roasted Trigonella foenumgraceum powder that is pre-mixed with fresh raw milk and/or melted ghee, prior to serving.

The milk is allowed to ferment for a long time of up to 14 days and can be stored from about two months to three months.” Very delicious and healthy products compensate for the food shortage in difficult times of the year.