In my many trips to the north of Kenya, I have encountered numerous coping strategies that the locals have devised to attend and tame the hard north of Kenya. But I guess the most fascinating thing I've witnessed so far are its food preservation techniques. Here, technology, like cold chains, is not part of a standard kitchen in most homes (rapid electrification and asphalting of the Isiolo-Moyale road may change this soon).
Dried meat (otkac or nyirnyir) is usually prepared from camel meat (gel hilib). The strips are cut and allowed to dry in the sun and then cut into small pieces that are fried (usually in oil with garlic and iliki) until they are dry. Dry fried meat is dipped in camel ghee (subag) where the fat mixture condenses and can be stored for at least 2-3 months without spoiling in bags made of camel skin and hooves.
A camel slaughtered and preserved in this way can be eaten for up to 6 months. For use, it is collected in potions and melted to be served as stew with crushed cornmeal, rice, beans (when available) or simply as a complete meal. During breakfast, nyirnyir is served only to men
But, interestingly enough, this method of meat preservation is not just a reserve for the shepherds of northern Kenya. Among the Luo of Kenya, that dried meat, known as aliya, becomes a stew eaten with Ugali. Sudanese also have similar meat they call shermout. But Sudanese are even more innovative.
The layer of fat around the stomach of a slaughtered animal (miriss) is also dried. The internal organs are also dried in the sun, crushed, mixed with a little potash and molded into a ball that is allowed to dry slowly to make twini-digla. The large intestine can also be cleaned and filled with fat and hung to dry as a type of sausage
The preservation of milk is also a novelty: wood protectors are rubbed inside with smoked weed sticks several times (at least five times). Then they are allowed to dry without being cleaned, washed. These herbs spread on the protectors act especially as food preservatives, for the milk that then remains suitable for long time consumption, regardless of weather conditions. I have eaten nyirnyir several times and it is really very good. I still have to gather enough strength to taste canned milk! I will keep you informed when the time comes to do this!