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Discover the Kalahari Truffle, a Delicacy From Namibia

Picture of Netumbo Nekomba
Journalist
Updated: 10 May 2018
Truffles are placed in one of the most expensive food groups in the world. Think exclusive European restaurants, price tags that amount to an arm and a leg, and yet a delicious dining experience. But one place you wouldn’t think of finding truffles is in south-western Africa, particularly in the Namibian desert.

Foraged in the Kalahari Desert and in the northern regions of Namibia during the rainy season, truffles—dubbed the ‘Kalahari truffles’ or traditionally known as ‘omatumbura’ or ‘mavhumbura’—are nutritious delicacies that can bedazzle any plate and are much cheaper than you may think (depending on where you get them). The best time to find them is in March or April after the substantial rains. They’ve been a delicacy for quite a long time—foraged and procured by those living in the desert by searching near Camelthorn trees armed with sticks and, of course, good skills.

Camelthorn
Truffles are often found near Camelthorn trees in the Kalahari Desert | © Annette Seifart / Flickr

According to the Gondwana Namibia, these treats are washed several times, peeled, heated, and then added to a bowl of spices to make a perfect meal. Some people eat them ripe and raw as they come, but after a good boil in water, they also make a great addition as a side dish to your steak or fish. Thanks to their exotic taste and aroma, they’re unlike any other around the world; but similarly to those found in Europe, they are dug up from underground and have to be treated with absolute care. The most useful way of finding them is by spotting several cracks in the ground as the mushrooms are thick and potato-like, but it’s still not as easy as it sounds.

Alternatively, you can easily find them on the side of the road in the northern or north-eastern regions, where they are sold at cheaper prices. Grab a kilogram or more and create your own recipes at home—truffle butter is a delicious favourite. But if you’re not one for getting creative in the kitchen, there are several restaurants around the country which offer truffles as delicacies, despite them being seasonal.

Located in Independence Avenue in the capital city, Gathemann restaurant not only offers truffles as a ragout or stew, but the establishment gets creative by offering Kalahari truffle ice-cream as well. But be prepared to pay more than your average meal, something you should be wary of if you’re the economical type.

Don’t worry if you’re not looking to spend a fortune. Head over to open markets such as Single Quarters in Windhoek‘s Katutura or if you’re ever traveling to the Zambezi region, grab some along the roadside.