Beniseed, or sesame seed as it is sometimes referred to, is an annual flowering plant which is cultivated for its seeds. It grows in pods and is believed to be the oldest cultivated oilseed in the world. Although its origin is doubtful, it is believed to have originated from Africa.
Beniseed was introduced to Nigeria after the Second World War and was mostly cultivated as a minor crop in the northern and central parts of Nigeria until 1974 when it began to gain prominence as a major cash crop. Beniseed is known as isasa in Yoruba, ridi in Hausa and ekuku in Igbo. However, it is noteworthy that of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria, this plant enjoys more popularity with the Hausa.
In the Hausa kitchen, beniseed is sometimes incorporated into drinks like kunun gyada, a creamy drink made with rice, groundnuts. Sometimes, the oil is extracted from beniseed and the resulting seed meal is pressed into a cake that can be broken and incorporated into soups and stews. Beniseed is also used in making katun ridi which is our topic of discussion today.
Katun ridi is quite popular in Kaduna State. This snack is traditionally made from beniseed, sugar and/or honey. Nowadays, those who love experimenting with food now make different varieties of this snack; the result is the emergence of ginger, cinnamon, or vanilla flavoured katun ridi candies. Again, depending on preference, this snack can be brittle, chewy or crisp.
Katun ridi is one of the candies special to Eid. In Kaduna and most parts of northern Nigeria, sharing candies like Katun ridi to children is one of the Eid traditions. Always free spirited and eager to make the most of festivities, children organize themselves in groups and move door to door to collect candies.
Parents rarely interfere with this annual ritual. Besides, most of them performed this candy walk as kids and are quite familiar with the drill. However, for security reasons, most parents insist that their children do not stray from their neighbourhood while on candy solicitation.
Finally, katun ridi tastes good. It is quite nutritious too. You should try making it at home.
Featured image source: Afrolems