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< prev - next > Energy Stoves and Ovens KnO 100745_Mumu (Printable PDF)
Mumu is an earth oven that operates by heating stones which are subsequently put into or
arranged around and on the food. The heat in the stones is transferred to the food and cooks it. In
this article, Dr P A Sopade describes the different types of mumu found in Papua New Guinea.
The need to convert varied and diverse food materials into palatable forms for maximum nutrient
assimilation has led to the development of various cooking techniques. These techniques can be
traditional or conventional. In Papua New Guinea, one of the traditional techniques is mumu. The
earth oven is known by various names amongst the South Pacific
in Samoa, Tonga and Cook Islands, it is mumu
in Tahiti, it is ahimaa
in Fiji, it is lovo
in Solomon Islands, it is mota
in New Zealand, it is hangi
Generally, black river stones are used and should be heated by hard firewood for the best results.
Any type of food can be cooked in the mumu and foods can be combined (root crops, vegetables,
meat etc.) with the sweeter and more delicate ones being placed on top. Depending on the quantity
of food, the duration of 'mumurisation' can be for one, two or several hours and, in some cases it can
be carried out overnight. Mumu is often used during ceremonies and despite the advent of modern
ovens in Papua New Guinea, it is still popular at the household level.
Types of Mumu
Papua New Guinea is a land of great physical variation
from vast swampy plains on the coast to high alpine
mountains and broad upland valleys. There are 20
provinces in the country but not all of them use the
mumu. It appears to be more common in the
highlands where pottery is very limited. The way in
which the stones are arranged and the mumu is made
vary from one part of Papua New Guinea to another.
Rabaul is the provincial headquarters of the East New
Britain Province. A pit is dug and then black river
stones are heated in it. The size of the pit and the
amount of stones and firewood used depend on the
quantity of food to be 'mumurised'. This is true of all
types of mumu. While the stones are being heated,
Banana leaf wrap
Hot stones
Grass cover
Banana leaves
Figure 1: Rabaul
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