Muffins recipes

National dish of Mauritania

flag of Mauritania

  • Independence: 12. 7. 1991
  • Capital: Nouakchott
  • Official language: Arabic
  • Population: 3 359 185
  • Area: 1 030 700 km2
  • International code: MR
  • Currency: Ouguiya (MRO)
map of Mauritania

Caravane cheese


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Caravane cheese is national food (dish) of Mauritania


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Camel's milk has supported Bedouin, nomad and pastoral cultures since the domestication of camels millennia ago. Herders may for periods survive solely on the milk when taking the camels on long distances to graze in desert and arid environments. Camel dairy farming is an alternative to cow dairy farming in dry regions of the world where bovine farming consumes large amounts of water and electricity to power air-conditioned halls and cooling sprinkler systems. Camel farming, by utilising a native species well-adapted to arid regions, able to eat salty desert plants, has been linked to de-desertification by UNESCO. Camel milk can be found in supermarkets in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Mauritania. Camel milk is a rich source of proteins with potential antimicrobial and protective activities; these proteins are not found in cow milk or found only in minor amount. Camel milk has enough nutrients to sustain a person through the day. In many countries, camel milk is given to babies suffering from malnutrition. Compared to cow, buffalo and ewe milk fat, camel milk fat contains fewer short-chained fatty acids, but the same long-chained fatty acids can be found. Some researchers claim that the value of camel milk is to be found in the high concentrations of volatile acids and, especially, linoleic acid and the polyunsaturated acids, which are essential for human nutrition. Camel milk has a high vitamin and mineral content and immunoglobin content. The composition of camel milk depends on its feed and species: Bactrian milk has a higher fat content than dromedary milk.

A European-style cheese was created through collaboration between Mauritanian camel milk dairy Tiviski, the FAO, and professor J.P. Ramet of the École Nationale Supérieure d'Agronomie et des Industries Alimentaires (ENSAIA). Curdling was produced by the addition of calcium phosphate and vegetable rennet. Caravane, the subsequently produced cheese is a product of Tiviski, and sold in supermarkets in Nouakchott. EU restrictions prevent this product from being sold in the EU. Difficulties with the cold chain and economy of scale prevent the camel cheese from being sold in the US.

Caravane is the brand name of a camel milk cheese produced in Mauritania by Tiviski, a company founded by Nancy Abeiderrhamane in 1987. The milk used to make the cheese is collected from the local animals of a thousand nomadic herdsmen, is very difficult to produce, and yields a product that is low in lactose. As Mauritanians do not generally eat cheese, and the European Commission has not yet fully implemented policies designed for dromedary milk products, Caravane is difficult to find in Europe. Its availability is largely limited to Nouakchott shops and restaurants, and as an export to neighboring Senegal. It can now be purchased in select stores in New York.

Mauritanian food recipes are in general rustic and flavorful. The arid soils have created a cuisine that favours sustenance and nutrition. Camel's meat is the traditional, chicken and lamb is also common. Fish and seafood is in abundant in the sea; along the coast it is often eaten fresh while inland salted and dried. Dried dates and nuts are common snack foods. National staple foods like rice and wheat are imported. Coconut in its various forms is used as ingredient or just on its own. The Mauritanian cuisine has developed with influences from several cuisines. The foundation can be said to be from the rustic food cooked by the nomadic tribes of Sahara. Similarities to Moorish and Arabic cooking are strong, the religious taboo's of Islam playing an important part. The presence of black Africans is also discernable. Although the colonial period was relatively brief the French left a strong cultural imprint well visible in several Mauritanian food recipes, cooking techniques and ingredients like cabbage are proof of that. Like in many other African countries there has been a small influx of immigration from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; as a result the flavourful spice mixes of South Asia have also made its way into the country's cuisine.

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