Food is a universal experience, a vital aspect of our cultural heritage that ought to be preserved, not in museums as we do other artworks but through oral tradition and practical experimentation. Northern Nigeria is a region with beautiful landscapes, ancient architectural designs and a fertile soil that produces all manner of food. Nigeria’s food history would not be complete if Northern Nigeria is not referenced, for they are the food basket of the nation.
The Hausa-Fulani are predominantly farmers and cattle rearers. Most Northern foods are derived from grains (rice, millet, maize, sorghum) and vegetables. Some of these grains are grounded into flour to prepare swallow popularly known as tuwo. They also have an abundance of meat especially beef which can be grilled to make beef delicacies like kilishi and suya.
On our food history segment today is tuwo masara. This food is a corn flour swallow that is indigenous to the Hausa-Fulani people. When preparing the tuwo masara flour, the testa of the grains is removed in some communities before grinding the maize. Testa removal is done by grinding gently inside mortar with pestle. Small water is added to the grains to enhance testa removal. The grains are then sun-dried. Afterwards, the dried grains are ground with a local grinding stone or with a grinding machine to obtain a smooth, dry, finely ground whitish flour. That flour is the tuwo masara.
Tuwo Masara is another way of eating corn. It is a great substitute for eba, a nutritious and appetizing accompaniment to different soups like miyan wake, miyan ridi, and ogbono or egusi soups. Tuwo masara is easy to prepare. Anyone who can prepare semo, wheat or poundo can prepare it.
Tuwo Masara reminds me of nni oka, a corn flour swallow that was quite popular in some parts of Igboland about fifteen years ago. Nni oka was (is) a suitable accompaniment to ogbono and okro soups, both of which are draw soups. However, the difference between tuwo masara and nni oka is that while tuwo masara is strictly prepared with corn flour, nni oka is usually mixed with cassava to make it stretchy.
A.A. Abdulrahman and O.M. Kolawole, Traditional Preparations and Uses of Maize in Nigeria
All African Dishes
Featured image source: Nigerian Food TV