Chin chin and naming things twice.

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Chin chin, puff puff, moi moi, why do Nigerians like naming things twice? The list transcends food; chuku chuku, nyama nyama, mago mago, wuru wuru, kpoto kpoto, maza maza… I think it’s for emphasis plus maybe Nigerians don’t hear when things are mentioned the first time, lol. I would say that chin chin is Nigeria’s national snack and here is how it’s made.

For Non-Nigerians out there, chinchin is some sort of fried cookie dough. It’s a must-make snack done during Christmas, Sallah and other celebrations. There are basically 2 types of chin chin; the classic which is like mine and the lovely long ones sold at traffic jams and motor parks (please anyone knows the recipe?).

Over the years, people have told me time and time again that they love my chin chin and so I have decided to share. My secret; first you have to know “the four Nots” of great chinchin:

Not hard: This happens when fat is not enough. It is also caused by over-handling the dough. Chinchin should not be jaw breaker but crisp like a good cookie. However it should not be moist but crunchy when chewed and then crumble leaving you with melting moments.

Not oily: Happens when the fat is too much. Good chinchin should not leave your hands and blood greasy. To achieve this you need the right amount of fat, not more.

Not shapeless: This happens when you don’t take cutting chin chin seriously. A good “chin” (a single chin chin) should be homogenous in size and shape with its fellow chins. You can achieve this by cutting them uniformly, using the shapeless ones for tasters or cutting your rolled out dough into a rectangle before cutting. You could also keep the shapeless ones aside to be re-rolled and cut but I don’t recommend this as over-handling gives a tough product. Traditionally they are shaped in cubes but whatever shape you decide, make sure they are uniform.

Not too sweet: Of course when sugar is too much. Eating some chinchin, is like a trip to a sugar factory; however the extreme is that some are tasteless like cardboard.

Ingredients: (makes about 3kg of chin chin)

2kg flour

550g sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 nutmeg grated

800g fat (Blue band® margarine)

1 tin of evaporated milk (Peak®)

Water as needed

Oil for frying

N.B: Eggs and baking powder are not necessary for this recipe as the former makes the oil foam and the latter is just not needed.

Method:

  • Mix the dry ingredients together.
  • Rub in the fat.
  • Make a well in the centre, add milk and little water then mix. Carefully add more water as needed till the dough comes together. If the dough begins to stick to your hands, then you have added too much water.
  • Knead just a little till smooth. Over-handling the dough will make it tough and not crisp.
  • Divide the dough into portions and roll. Keep the other ones in the fridge until you are ready to roll and cut. Leaving it out will cause the fat to melt out thereby losing its crunch.
  • Cut into long strips and then into cubes as shown in the picture. Continue until you have finished the whole dough. You have to make sure you finish cutting before frying so as to be able to give undivided attention to the chinchin while frying.
  • Line two colanders with paper towels; one for first draining and the other to free up the first.
  • Fry till just a little under golden brown as it further darkens from residual heat.
  • When cool, store in air-tight containers.

And there you have crisp, classic chinchin that goes well with drinks of your choice.

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