I was invited to break fast at a Sudanese friend’s place. The fare was simple but good, bread with stew and falafel. There was an interesting drink as well, cold and dark like iced black coffee. It tasted delightful like Coke, Ribena and chilli pepper. I was very surprised by the flavour, I had never tasted anything like it before and exclaimed, “Oh! This is a completely new flavour!”
The host was delighted by my reaction and said it was “Hulu mur” made of sprouted grain mashed and baked into a dark thin sheet. Then soaked in water to make the drink as needed. The Hulu mur sheets are time-consuming to make and only prepared for the month of Ramadan, before the fasting month begins.
It’s surprisingly hard to find information about this beverage. The one link I found that actually says what the stuff is is this :
It is made of equal parts sprouted sorghum and fermented sorghum porridge with some spices; every family has their own special spice mix. Then allowed to ferment some more and then baked on a hot plate into a dark crepe and stored. The crepe is crumbled and the pieces soaked in cold water for half an hour to make the drink.
The friend gave us a sheet of Hulu mur so we can make the drink ourselves, though we haven’t tried to do that yet.
Apparently sorghum grain is hard to digest, so African peoples often ferment the grain before using it to make bread or porridge. American Indians used to do the same with maize; the process of “Nixtamalization”, fermenting maize with a weak alkali before grinding unlocks vitamins that would otherwise not be absorbed by the body. Interestingly the Sudanese take fermented sorghum for granted as halal, the friend who served us the drink is quite pious and it probably never occurred to him to question it.