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Nigerian Dessert: Kunnu Aya Pudding with Strawberries & Sesame Crunch

by on February 24, 2014
 

This post began life as: Kunnu Panna cotta with Guava Jam and Sesame Crunch, before I gave up the gelatine/setting agent in the Panna Cotta and before an epic fail with my guava jam caused its transformation to what it is now – Kunnu Aya Pudding with Strawberries & Sesame Crunch.

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Guavas are some of the most difficult things to eat. Ever.

Mangoes can be funny too, leaving threads between your whites or ivories. But they can be handled with grace, and floss and toothpicks.

Back to Guavas.

And as I was saying, definitely no smooth sailing. Every bite, especially if you’re close to the core might bring you teeth to teeth with small, hard seeds that aren’t easily crunched. Or cracked. So I swallow them.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

And I hate and curse them for how they sneak into nooks and crannies, how they find mouth cavities…and fill them. Leaving me in pain. For now. Till I extract the damned wisdom tooth.

The beige-orange seeds remind me of sesame seeds.

I have a ritual in which I cut the lobate guava across its equator, into two hemispheres. Each hemisphere is hacked, into small wedges – easy for teeth to sink into and enjoy the juiciness of the centre.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

I work my way through all the wedges till what’s left is but a thick rim of skin and flesh.

I want to toss them in the bin. Every single time, but a longing for the blossomy scent, tangy rind and sweet, soft flesh – a peculiar taste, hold me back.

It’s then I begin to slowly eat the remnants. Bit by bit by bit.

It’s then that I see the value in cooking and jamming these guavas, for herein lies the essence.

It’s that which has spurred me on. Led me here to a guava jam. A delicious, fruity jam that makes superb sense paired with a creamy and somewhat spicy panna cotta.

When @olicpher gave me some Kunnu Zaki made of millet and a variation on the milky drinks from the north, made with a variety of nuts and grains, all I could think of was transforming it into a dessert. 

At first I considered panna cotta, till I remembered Ghanian Atadwe milk, made with the milk of Tiger NutsI like the idea ’cause it doesn’t involve any setting agents, which means every and almost anyone who has access to Tiger nuts can make it.

That’s the base.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

On to the jam. The Guava jam which I’m going crazy about till I actually cook it. And get a grey mess. And that’s not even where the fail ends, for in a bid to alter the colour and make it more appealing, I add a healthy dose of dark brown sugar. Which improves the colour for sure but leaves me with a mass of molasses that ruins my palate. And my Sunday.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

The jam is ditched as an accompaniment and I go with trusted Nigerian strawberries which sparked off the season well, then disappointed me for a few weeks and now seem to be much improved.

Served with a delicious, delicious light and crisp sesame seed cookie. A gift from my neighbour and friend. Its called Ribi in the north of Nigeria where it is a common snack.

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It is exactly like the sesame snaps most of us love except it is extremely light and beautifully crunchy.

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You might have gathered by now that I am obsessed with Northern Nigerian cuisine. Whether its spice blends like Yaji, or street food like Fried Yam. This year, I intend to explore the wealth of foods the region has to offer.  And share that with you, of course.

I’m also intent on defining ‘Nigerian desserts’, a category that is lean (at best) for we don’t do desserts much in a country where food is loved but not passionately celebrated.

So here it is – my Nigerian dessert of a Kunnu Aya Pudding with Nigeria-grown Strawberries and Sesame crisp.

Kunnu Aya Pudding, ‘Ghanian Atadwe Milkye’ adapted from Betumi

Ingredients

1 cup fresh or dried tiger nuts (Chufas
1/4 cup of white rice (I used ‘Tuwo‘ rice, a Nigerian short-grain rice)
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of salt (to taste)
1 1/2 cups plus 2/3 cups of water
a few drops of food coloring (optional)
milk or cream, for serving (optional)

Directions

‘Pick’ through the nuts – remove any shrivelled or discoloured nuts, rinse them well several times, then put them into a non-reactive bowl (plastic, glass, ceramic, stainless steel) to soak for several hours or overnight.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

Tiger nuts, from L to R: Fresh, Sun-dried, Roasted

Soaking the dried tiger nuts overnight, and the fresh ones for at least 3 hours. Drain away the water from the soak and rinse. Avoid leaving them to soak so long that they begin to ferment.

I used fresh.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

Fresh Tiger nuts

When ready to make the pudding, pour and drain off the water, rinse once more, and drain again.
Combine the rice and tiger nuts together in a blender or food processor, with 1 cup of water.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

Grind/blend/process/ pulse for a few minutes, until the nuts and rice and broken up into small bits.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

Turn out the mixture into a (non-reactive) bowl. Add an additional 1/2 cup water to the bowl of the food processor to rinse as much of the dregs out as possible. Add this to the bowl.
Line a metal strainer with a folded cheesecloth over a bowl. Pour/scrape the ground tigernut-rice mixture into the cheesecloth, then gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible into the bowl.
Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding
Open the cheesecloth (still over the strainer) and pour an additional 2/3 cup of water into the cheesecloth, and then squeeze it again to extract as much ‘milk’ as possible, into the bowl again.
Add the dregs to pancake mixes, churros or discard.
I shake out my cheesecloth and then strain the liquid one last time.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

Fran of Betumi says ‘ ….. Remembering the silk scarf we used in Ghana, I rinsed out and dried the bowl I used earlier when I emptied the food processor, rinsed out my clean silk scarf and squeezed it as dry as I could, then placed it over the strainer and carefully poured the tigernut milk mixture through it, and squeezed it out as I had with the cheesecloth. The first time I did this (when I ground the nuts and rice separately), I ended up with another couple of tablespoons of fiber/dregs in the cheesecloth, and it was like milking a cow to get all the liquid through the silk.
The second time, I’m not sure it made any difference. Perhaps the rice was ground finer the first time and could slip through the cheesecloth, but not the silk, and the second time it was coarser and so didn’t need to be restrained. As I said, the flavor was not significantly different, so you decide if you need to use a silk scarf or not. Either way, the final product is definitely silky smooth!’
After the final straining, pour the ‘milk’ into a heavy, non-reactive metal pan (I use stainless steel), and add a pinch of salt to taste (I used less than 1/2 teaspoon), and about 1/4 cup sugar.
Heat the milk over medium heat, stirring constantly. Do not boil it. It will thicken in 3 – 4 minutes. The mixture will thicken but will be liquid still, it’ll barely coat the back of a spoon. Don’t fret as I did, for it will set. Thankfully, as mine did.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

Take it off the heat and pour or ladle it into serving glasses.
Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding
I tried a ramekin, still intent on panna cotta. More on that in a minute. The natural colour is off-white tending towards ‘cream’.

Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding

If you like, as Fran did, add a few drops of red or yellow food coloring, or try layering several colors .
I refrigerated the ‘pudding’ overnight.
Kunnu Aya/Tiger Nut Pudding
Serve, topped with evaporated milk or cream and chopped (tropical) fruit.

Verdict

This is a pudding I really like – it is light, creamy and silky smooth. And it is a dessert made with local ingredients – a big plus.
The strawberries provided some flavour and texture, as did the Ribi, the sesame crisp.  This contrasted nicely with the creamy but not overly rich pudding which has tones of vanilla and almond.
On a different note, it is extremely light, and the set ‘delicate’ so turning it out of the ‘test ramekin’ resulted in ‘collapse’.
Best eaten from the receptacle.
There you have it a wonderful dessert and dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan too!
Scream and shout. Yep. You’re allowed.
Stay well.
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