Koko and Kosai

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Funny that I never had the guts to drink koko from the street vendors. Was it because I  wasn’t sure of its hygiene status or that I felt it wasn’t cool to be caught in the joint say…koko joint in community market of ABU, Zaria?, beats me. “Kosai” is the Hausa name for akara aka bean cake whereas “Koko” also from Hausa cuisine is a spicy and watery akanmu (ogi, pap), a cross between akanmu and Kunun Zaki.

Looking back now, I admire those lucky guys (never saw a girl), sitting down and sipping on spicy koko (like gin n juice, lol) at the koko joint. They held nothing back as they squeezed their lips on the edge of the cups, supping the scalding koko and crunching the kosai. This was an especially warming meal as it helped them weather the chilly harmattan breeze (during the cold season that is).

Albeit I never sat down to chow at the Koko joints, I always had the hots for its accessories, popularly known as “Kosh and dosh” This consists of kosai and doya (yam). I liked mine with dankali (sweet potato) and a generous helping of yaji (a mix of ginger and pepper) sprinkled over it. All who were close to me back in Uni knew that my best grub was kosh n dosh. Doesn’t sound exciting right? (I know) but I loved it coz it had yam in it and I love all things yam. I would make trips out of the university gate to the place where I could get my delight. If I was buoyant, I could get the VIP combo which included plantain and fried fish. Though unsophisticated, I love the crude way it was wrapped in newspapers or university answer scripts (if you were lucky you could see your name and exam no. identifying it as yours : D). Sometimes the ink left marks on the food but let’s not be too picky here. The wrap was then put in a polythene bag which helped to keep the steam in giving a moist yumminess to the goodies. Some street vendors even had stew à la carte to go with the kosh n dosh.

Well since I had never had koko before I decided to create it in my kitchen (actually my sister’s kitchen : D). I truthfully do not know how koko is locally made however I just used my common sense and as expected with something you do by trial and errors, there were errors. And so I bring you the good, the bad and ugly. It was generally a nice meal however, the koko was too thick and didn’t cook well so I put it in the microwave then it ended up being too gooey like liquid eko (agidi). I’m proud to say that I made the Kosai from scratch *beaming*It turned out nice but was not crispy : (  Please does anyone know what makes fried foods not to be crisp on the outside. Mum says it might have to do with the oil; I’m still yet to prove or disprove it.

I made the koko by using akanmu and spices. Basically like making spicy akanmu and then making it very watery so that you can drink it from a bowl or a cup. The spices I used was what the hausas call “Kayan kunu”, this refers to spices that are used to make kunu. These spices are commonly used in hausa cuisine and include: ginger, cloves and a long black spice which I don’t know the name in English or hausa but in Igbo is called “Uda”. Some people also add dried chilli peppers or black pepper to their kunu.

What you need:

Kosai:

  • 2 heaped cups of brown beans
  • Boiling water
  • 2 cups of water
  • Half of a small onion
  • 3 medium attaragu (rodo, habanero, scotch bonnet or goat chili)
  • Cayenne pepper or dried ground chili (optional)
  • Chopped onion
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil

Koko:

  • Dried ginger
  • Uda (Negro pepper/Xylopia aethiopica)
  • Water
  • Akanmu
  • Sugar
  • Boiling water

How it’s made:

Koko:

1.     Measure out 2 heaped cups of the beans and pick to remove grit.

2.    Pour in boiling water till it just covers the beans and then leave to soak for 10 minutes so that the skin can separate from the seeds.

3.     Using your hands to rub the beans, separate the skins from the seeds.

4.     Put the beans in a bowl and fill with water so that the skins float to the top. Then using a colander placed in a second bowl, pour out the water to trap the skins and stop just before the seeds start getting in.

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5.     Pour the water back into the first bowl and repeat the process till you have the seeds in the first bowl and the skins in the colander.

6.     Discard the skins and then rinse the beans with fresh water.

7.     Put the beans in a blender with the onion and attaragu and blend until very smooth when felt between the fingers. Blend with only 1 cup of water. You have to exercise caution with the water as the key thing for kosai is to make sure that it is ground thick so that you can fry it. If it is too watery, it will scatter in the oil and not hold shape and you might have to make moimoi instead. So make sure it’s as thick as seen below.

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8.     Here you mix the beans puree a little at a time as seen in the picture. In case you need more pepper, you can add. Then add chopped onion and salt and out of the remaining I cup of water, you can add little about 1 tablespoon at a time. It is very important here that before you fry it, you cream it (as if you are making cake) i.e. you stir it around in one direction for about a minute to incorporate air into it and make it fluffy.

9.     Fry in hot oil until golden brown (funny how fried foods are described as golden : )).

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Koko:

1.     Grind the spices until smooth then boil in water for 10 minutes. Sieve and set aside.

2.     Mix the akanmu with some cold water to form a paste.

3.     While turning this paste, add boiling water enough to make it watery. Mix very well to make sure it is well cooked.

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4.     Next add the hot spicy liquid (heat again if cold)according to desired spiciness.

5.     Add sugar, stir well and if still thick, add more hot water until it has a very runny consistency.

6.     Serve with the Kosai and bon appetito.