By Ozoz Sokoh
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.
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.
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.
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 Nuts. I 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.
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.
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.
It is exactly like the sesame snaps most of us love except it is extremely light and beautifully crunchy.
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.
Kunnu Aya Pudding ‘Ghanaian Atadwe Milkye’ Adapted From Betumi
Ingredients1 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.
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.