Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tiger nuts part one: How to make Tiger nut milk

Yes yes, I know I 'went off' again. Apologies.
But I have sooo much to share!
I recently discovered Tiger nut. No its not a scientific discovery. Making soy milk is always sort of combersome for me, then Vicky came home from work with a small bottle of tigernut milk. Tasted absolutely heavenly! Google gave me several recipes and you will read what I have been able to come up with soon.
Firstly what is Tiger nut?
Its a teeny weeny tuber crop, that is generally considered as a vegetable. Each nut is full of fiber, healthy fats, proteins, carbohydrates, a little bit of naturally occuring sugars, and loads of prebiotics, which is the food for probiotics. According to Wikipedia:
Dried tiger nut has a smooth tender, sweet and nutty taste. It can be consumed raw, roasted, dried, baked or as tiger nut milk or oil.

Use as food
The tubers are edible, with a slightly sweet, nutty flavour, compared to the more bitter-tasting tuber of the related Cyperus rotundus (purple nutsedge). They are quite hard and are generally soaked in water before they can be eaten, thus making them much softer and giving them a better texture. They are a popular snack in West Africa...

They have various uses; in particular, they are used in Spain to make horchata. “Horchata” is a nonalcoholic beverage of milky appearance derived from the tubers of the tiger nut plant mixed with sugar and water. It has a great economic impact in the Valencian region of Spain.

Flour of roasted tiger nut is sometimes added to biscuits and other bakery products as well as in making oil, soap, and starch extracts. It is also used for the production of nougat, jam, beer, and as a flavoring agent in ice cream and in the preparation of kunnu (a local beverage in Nigeria). Kunnu is a nonalcoholic beverage prepared mainly from cereals (such as millet or sorghum) by heating and mixing with spices (dandelion, alligator pepper, ginger, licorice) and sugar. To make up for the poor nutritional value of kunnu prepared from cereals, tiger nut was found to be a good substitute for cereal grains. Tiger nut oil can be used naturally with salads or for deep frying. It is considered to be a high quality oil. Tiger nut “milk” has been tried as an alternative source of milk in fermented products, such as yogurt production, and other fermented products common in some African countries and can thus be useful replacing milk in the diet of people intolerant to lactose to a certain extent.

The Nigerian Tiger nut milk is sooo different from the Spanish Horchata. I was initially dismayed when I read the Horchata recipes online and saw sugar, because I am trying so hard to avoid any processed sugar in my diet. I saw recipies by a Nairaland author, a reknown food author, Nourished Kitchen, and finally when I saw this one by ZeroNever, I was happy. ZeroNever's recipe had no sugar in it.
Since I did not have all the ingredients she used, I made use of what I had on hand, and it turned out great.

Tiger nuts = Ofio in Yoruba = Aya in Hausa = Aki Awusa in Igbo.


- Tiger nuts, three (3) cups. [I used tin cups made from Peak milk tins. You can use any measurement cup, as long as its not too large.]
- A stick of cinnamon [optional]
- A small clove of ginger [optional]
- Coconut flesh [optional]
- 2 or 3 Cardamom pods [optional]
- Small clove of ginger, washed and cut into smaller pieces [optional]
- Water for soaking, and water for blending. Some measurements use up to 2.5 litres of water.
- Cheese cloth OR cloth-sieve OR Cut up pantyhose OR nut-milk bag, for sieving.


STEP 1: Wash the tiger nuts to remove dust, sediment and the occasional stones in it. Soak the tiger nuts and the cinnamon stick, for a long period, preferably overnight. Some people soak for three days, but overnight is enough to soften the nuts.

STEP 2: Grind the tiger nuts and the other optional ingredients i.e. cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, coconut flesh, and ginger, into a smooth paste, using a strong blender [at least 450W], or the local mill. If you are using the local mill, make sure its not the machine they use for pepper. Ask for the one they use for grinding corn and millet.

STEP 3: Sieve out the milk. If you used a blender, pour the dry chaff back into the blender, add little water and blend again. Sieve a second time. If you used the local mill, pour the chaff into a bowl and pour a small amount of hot water over it. Let it soak for up to 45 minutes and sieve again. This is done to get the most milk out of the chaff.

STEP 4: Pour the extracted milk into a bottle and refrigerate. If you want to keep for longer, please put in the freezer, and bring out hours before you need to drink it, so it can thaw naturally.

STEP 5: Shake the bottle before serving. Serve chilled, preferably with ice.

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