Long post alert! So, I found out that one of my ajebutters has some food allergies and my world almost fell apart. I did not know what to do with myself. I don’t know why it hurt so bad. I reached out to a friend and after our conversation, I decided to see this challenge with my ajebutter’s allergies as a blessing. I realized that not only me, but quite a lot of Nigerian women have children who suffer these food allergies and just maybe we can be of a little help to us and help put us out of our “monotonous meal misery”. I instantly started studying and researching ideas for gluten/wheat free meals and snacks. I have to say, it is quite tedious, but it can be helped. Hopefully, we can help with some ideas and make some healthy and “normal” foods for our children who have food allergies. I am just pleased my ajebutter is not allergic to any dyes 🙂 I would have walked into a wall. As enough is enough 🙂
Anytime I think of or make ChinChin, I remember Christmas. Chinchin, also known as African cookies are one of Nigeria’s main and favorite snack. They are fun to pop in your mouth especially when they are crispy and crunchy at the same time. Anytime I talk with my friends about Christmas, we remember chinchin. My mother was more of a cake person, but I remember making holiday chinchin and as annoyingly tedious as it seemed, it was always beautiful . I always wondered, why suffer to make these tiny little snacks. Well, they are delicious ehnn :). It is hard to tell, but confectioneries must also be at the bottom of why modern man is generally a sweet-tooth. Even when a child happens to be very sick, he or she would sooner take a bite of a doughnut rather than the best prepared nourishing meal. As children, part of the bargain and inducement to accept to take drugs when ill, was to keep an appetizing chinchin, or doughnut, handy! 🙂
The scent of Christmas includes the scent of chinchin. The beautiful smell of fluffy grated nutmeg…We did not make chinchin every Christmas, but the years that we did, my mother would hide the canister where she stored them, but we would always sniff it out. I remember the story of a friend who did the same to his mother. Him and his brother would always sniff out wherever their mother placed their holiday chinchin. My friend always tells me this story of how him and his brother turned into ‘spirits’ of the night and helped their mother with her chinchin. please read:
“Mother always frowned at our excessive love of sweet foods so, at seasons such as this, when celebrations were not complete without the Christmas chin-chin, she kept an eagle eye on her stash, once they were fried and ready, as Christmas approached. However, no matter how ingenious she was at hiding those chin-chins, my older brother and I always found them and helped ourselves to more than our fair share of the store.
During this particular year, mother showed us what a wise old mother, she was. We saw the chin-chins as they were fried. As a matter of fact, we helped prepare them, but we did not know when and how they disappeared, nor where they disappeared to. We applied all our skills in our efforts to finally home in on this stash, but to no avail. Mother had finally beaten us to it, this time around. Eight and eleven year-olds could only know so much.
My brother and I spent all afternoon, sniffing around like dogs, but nothing turned up. But just about two hours before bedtime, I noticed a broad smile of satisfaction, playing on my brother’s face! He was more mischievous than a squirrel and I knew right away he was up to something! Moments later he came over and whispered in my ear: “I’ve found it!” We both celebrated the find, quietly and planned our strategy, as nightfall translated into bedtime.
I was to be the decoy, so that mother won’t miss us both. Then, I would join him in the shop, where mother had hidden the chin-chins in a large, covered basin and tucked it away under one of the counters and disguised it heavily, with a couple of empty cartons. Indeed, only a fox like my older brother could have discovered such cache of chin-chins, so artfully hidden away. Our strategy was to go to bed in her shop, altogether and spend the night there, while feasting on the chin-chins, to our fill. I kept distracting mother’s attention until she herself started falling asleep and finally went to bed. Quickly, I slipped into the shop and joined my brother under the counter, as we enjoyed our night of chin-chin festival. By the third night, the basin was virtually empty and that was when mother realised that the basin had been playing host to some nocturnal visitors.” 🙂 I hope you enjoyed the story. Both boys in the story remind me of my smaller ajebutter and his love for chinchin. kai 🙂
Wherever there is chin-chin, you must find a Nigerian. I never knew how much Nigerians loved Christmas chinchin until I did a poll on my Facebook page. A lot of my friends also seemed picky about how they wanted their chinchin. Some liked it flat like cookies(child friendly by the way and prevents chocking), some liked the traditional square shaped ones, some liked the strips and the rest did not care; they just wanted their chinchin and didn’t care what specie they looked like. My personal favorite is the round shaped one. basically after making your dough, you do not need to roll it out. just pinch a tiny piece of the dough and gently roll it between your hands into a tiny ball until you have rolled all the dough into tiny balls.(becareful not to over work the dough while rolling)
What makes chinchin for me is the butter, once you have a really good butter you are a winner as in you would conquer the chinchin the same way I did with Basmati jollof rice. I tell you, if you can cook the perfect basmati jollof then you are good! As in, greater is he that is in you oh! I have to thank Ify of eating Nigerian for her endless help when it comes to me handling flour, Oladipo of my active kitchen for helping me see the blessing in my ajebutter’s allergy and Ronke of 9jafoodie.com for her chinchin recipe; from which this recipe is adapted from 🙂
Here, have a go at this recipe and I promise you will love every crunch
- 3cups of all purpose flour
- ⅔rds stick of butter(5.33 tbsp. 75.6g. 0.08kg)
- ½ cup of sugar
- ½ tsp baking powder(you could use 1tsp of baking powder for a more softer chinchin)
- 1 egg
- ½-1 cup of cold evaporated milk or cold water
- ½ tsp salt(leave out the salt if you use a butter with salt)
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- the zest of a lemon(optional)
- oil for frying
- Using a whisk, mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl; add the butter and mix with your hands until the mixture looks crumbly. Make a well in the flour mixture, beat and add the egg; then the milk. knead gently until you have a slightly, but medium soft, but stretchy, smooth dough. (if the dough is sticky, add a little flour and if too hard, add a little milk). Wrap the dough in a cling wrap and place in the fridge for up to an hour(this helps with the crisping) (I left mine for up to four days as I was a little busy and tired).
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until almost very thin and cut into any shape you want. Basically, you could use a knife, pastry cutter wheel or pizza cutter to cut the dough into long thin strips; then cut across each strip to make little squares. Alternatively, you could use a cookie cutter or pinch the dough with your fingers and roll into tiny balls.
- Heat the oil to 350 degrees and fry the chinchin in batches; making sure you stir constantly(using a slotted spoon) until golden brown. drain onto a paper towel and let it cool. Store in a container with a tight lid and in a cool dry place. Enjoy 🙂