Original Recipe from the Wichi People of Northern Argentina

Our desire to learn original recipes for the uses of Kiawe Pod Flour were humbly and joyfully fulfilled in January 2012 when we had the amazing experience of making friends and visiting a Wichi Village on the Northern border of Argentina.  My good friend Catherine (Cat) Black and her husband Bruno were living in Buenos Aires, Argentina and had invited us to visit because they said that there were still people in northern Argentina who ate kiawe flour regularly.

We had realized early in this kiawe journey that we were like babies when it came to knowing kiawe as a staple food. And our friends in Tucson, Arizona who shared with us so graciously their knowledge of mesquite, were pretty much like us. I was researching on-line and reading what I found and what friends were generously sending my way, and playing w kiawe tea and flour, but it was like feeling around in the dark.

We have a lot of experience with kalo and hand pounding kalo into pa`i`ai and poi. And thru my son Daniel’s experience and research into the “original recipe” for making pa`i`ai we know how valuable an original recipe is. Poi (diluted pa`i`ai) was once the staple food of the Hawaiian Nation. It was hand pounded. It is a complex carbohydrate, with a little protein, a lot of fiber, vitamins A, B, C and high in iron, calcium and potassium. It was a diabetic friendly food. A food that fermented and did not spoil. It is so nutritious that a new born infant could be raised on just watered down poi. It was an amazing food!

But in modern times all commercially produced poi is machine made and most of it will spike a diabetic’s blood sugar. That’s strange… as a complex carbohydrate it should be good for stabilizing blood sugar levels… What changed? What Daniel and company discovered was that the recipe for making poi had changed- the sugary (loli) parts of the kalo were being mixed into the starchy part, and that change caused the end product to change into a non-diabetic friendly food.

We desired, we prayed to be connected to original recipes of kiawe, from people who had been connected to the tree for a 1000 years.

And it happened.

There was a picture book on the table in Cat and Bruno’s apartment in Buenos Aries about the desert region in northern AR. Nearly every photo had brown barefoot kids- like my mo`opuna (grandchildren) and kiawe trees in them.

My nephew Shaum and I knew we had to go there. When we told this to Cat she said it would be better for us to stay closer to central northern AR, get to know the customs and learn some Spanish. Plus she didn’t know how to get us into the remote area in the photos, hook us up with a guide or anything. The area was in the boonies. The people  wouldn’t even speak Spanish. They would have their own indigenous languages. Made sense what she said. But the next day when we were again looking at the photos in the book, we knew we had to go there.

We consulted with Cat. She got that we were committed. Then she remembered that she knew the photographer! A call was made. We met Pablo a few days later in a coffee shop, and he connected us with a Wichi/English family that wanted to visit their home village.

In the Wichi culture the women choose their mates and this Wichi woman chose an Englishman for her husband. He had been working for more than 20 years helping the Wichis in their battle to protect their lands from being stolen, exploited and used. They had 5 boys. The oldest was 6 years old and the youngest was 6 months old. Their village was far and it was expensive for them to get back for a visit. We agreed to cover all expenses and they agreed to take us along. We also agreed to give the husband a stipend for translating, explaining and generally looking after us.

It was a 6 hour 4×4 ride and all the kids got car sick and threw up. Lol. We just took turns holding barfing kids in the truck.

The Wichi `aina is a vast, flat, forested desert. It’s like the ocean, just goes on as far as u can see.

The relatives were so happy to see the family! And we were warmly received. Very morning aunty used her mortar and pestle to pound kiawe pods into a coarse meal. It was eaten raw, the inedible parts chewed and spited out. For the young ones the coarse meal was sifted and moistened, then spoon fed. Water was added to what was left, the bowl was swished around and everyone had a sip or two. That was how they ate kiawe pod flour. That is an original recipe. That recipe and friends we made are treasured gifts.


On our way home we thought about how to incorporate the Wichi way of eating kiawe flour into our modern Hawaiian world. We eat many things raw, but flour is not one of those things. We had also picked up a mill 4 grinding the kiawe bean pods into flour and the flour it produced was a little gritty. Good consistency 4 energy bars.

The results of a couple of months of experimenting w energy bars recipes is our very own raw kiawe pod flour “`Aina Bar”. The ingredients of the original bar r: kiawe pod flour, organic ground peanuts, organic raw honey and pa’akai- Hawaiian sea salt. Simple. `Ono (delicious). Diabetic friendly (digests slowly). Gluten free. Find the recipe in our recipe section.


We r stoked to share with u that as of January 2016, 3% of the gross sales of `Aina Bars will go back to our Wichi friends.

We believe that a true business creates livelihood 4 all.

He ali`i ka `aina. He kauwa ke kanaka. The land is chief, people its servants.