Abreh or hulu-mur is a popular Sudanese beverage, said to have been invented by Amna Abdel-Razig Alfahl in Berber, Northern Sudan sometime in the 1860s. 

Abreh or hulu-mur is a popular Sudanese beverage, said to have been invented by Amna Abdel-Razig Alfahl in Berber, Northern Sudan sometime in the 1860s. Allegedly, one very rainy night Amna’s storeroom became flooded which soaked her store of sorghum grain kept in large sacks on the floor. Amna hadn’t got around to opening the storeroom for a couple of days after the flood, as the rest of the house needed attention. Upon opening the storeroom, Amna discovered that the sorghum grain had germinated into sprouted sorghum, as tiny white and green shoots were sticking out of each grain. She didn’t want to waste the grain and so proceeded to sun dry and grind the sprouted sorghum into flour to make kisra. Amna noticed the kisra had a pleasant sweet taste due to the germination process, and so began to experiment with her discovery by adding complementary spices such as cinnamon, cumin, galangal and ginger. She later soaked the newly discovered spiced kisra sheets in water and drank its infusion, which eventually became the beverage known as abreh or hulu-mur.

Amna’s discovery gradually spread throughout the region and eventually the entire country. This infusion became a common feature of Sudanese celebrations, especially in the lead up to the holy month of Ramadan when participating Muslims abstain from food and water during daylight hours. It became common for women in a community to share the workload of making hulu-mur in each other’s homes because the process of making the infusion is long and labour intensive. To do this, four or five women who may be family or friends, but most likely neighbours, team up and take turns going to each other’s homes to make hulu-mur. They repeat the same process until they all have a stock of the hulu-mur sheets to last the month. 

Ramadan has always been a period when the community reaffirms its ties, having guests over to breakfast, feeding the needy at sunset, and being woken up by the neighbourhood children to have a light meal before sunrise. In Sudan, the making of hulu-mur is a prelude to Ramadan, signifying the approaching holy period by filling the streets with the incredibly sweet aroma of spiced fermented bread. 


This story has been contributed from The Sudanese Kitchen project, established by Omer Al-Tijani Mohamed. The Sudanese Kitchen provides information on Sudanese food and drink to the English speaking world. This project specifically targets Sudanese youth, based in and outside of Sudan, who wish to incorporate traditional Sudanese cooking into their everyday lives, as well as non-Sudanese English speaking foodies eager to learn about Sudan’s relatively undiscovered (on an international scale) cuisine. For more information on The Sudanese Kitchen visit www.sudanesekitchen.com.

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