Traditional Fermented Butter Smen/Dhan: Current Knowledge, Production and Consumption in Algeria

  •  Rania Boussekine    
  •  Ryma Merabti    
  •  Malika Barkat    
  •  Fatima-Zohra Becila    
  •  Nora Belhoula    
  •  Jérôme Mounier    
  •  Farida Bekhouche    


Algerian Smen/Dhan is an ethnic dairy product which is a traditional fermented butter made from whole raw milk by empirical methods. This product constitutes a significant part of the Algerian diet and represents a gastronomical heritage that need to be preserved and protected. The aim of the present study was to investigate the place and use of this product in the Algerian culture as well as to identify the traditional methods used for its preparation. A survey was conducted on 880 households in the South and East of Algeria. The results revealed that 96.47% of the surveyed population knew what Smen/Dhan was, 75.22% consumed it and 47.61% prepared it at home. Concerning the production method, raw milk (cow, goat and/or sheep milk) is spontaneously fermented until coagulation. Then, the obtained coagulum (Raib) is churned with different tools to obtain the butter used for Smen/Dhan preparation. Then, two different preparation modes are used depending on the surveyed regions. Households from Batna, Khenchela and Setif proceed directly with butter salting while in the Biskra, Jijel, El Oued and Ouargla regions, a different process is used which first involves a heat-treatment of the butter followed by the addition of one or more ingredients. After packing in a traditional ceramic container (Ezzir) and other containers, a maturation step is applied with a long duration varying from one month to several years. This product is consumed as an additive to enhance the taste and aroma of some traditional dishes (couscous/other) and is also used in traditional medicine.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-0887
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-0895
  • Started: 2012
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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