Local Drink Recipe: Tiger Nut Milk (Kunnu Aya)

Fantastic! That’s what comes to mind when I think of Tiger Nut milk.  

Also known as “ofio” (Yoruba), “akihausa” (ibo) and “aya” (Hausa), Tiger nuts being sold in wheelbarrows by “abokis” are common sights on the streets of Naija. Oblivious of the high nutrition in tiger nuts, children and adults simply enjoy them as crunchy nutty snacks. 

Though referred to as nuts Tiger nuts are not nuts but tuber vegetables. Found in Ancient to Africa and Southern Europe particularly Spain, these pea-size yellowish-brown tubers are unique for their taste and creamy nutty flavour and have been in existence for thousands of years. But are now unanimously popular around the world because of the amazing health benefits they pack. 

Tiger nuts are dense with minerals, protein, fibre and vitamins C and E. Health benefits to be enjoyed include: good appetite suppressant, active blood circulation, prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and blood sugar control, immune system boost, and better digestion. Aside all these, tiger nuts are as healthy as olive oil because they have a similar lipid profile. 

Did I mention that they also serve as potent aphrodisiacs? Yes! Tiger nuts are good libido stimulants and are very essential for fertility. 

Tiger nuts can be enjoyed in diverse ways – as snacks, ice cream toppings, flavouring in bread, cakes and cookies etc. But today we’ll see one more rich and easy way to enjoy these little sweet tubers – as a refreshing beverage!

Let’s make some Tiger nut milk!      

Ingredients:

2 Cup Tiger nuts

Date fruits (as required) ***dates are healthy substitute for sugar 

1 tsp ground ginger / 1 medium size fresh ginger (skinned)

½ cup diced coconut (optional)

½ tsp dried ground chilli pepper – (optional for spice)

 

Process:

Wash tiger nuts thoroughly and leave in a bowl of clean water to soak for about 2 – 3 hours (soak overnight if using very dry tiger nuts). Rinse and soak dates for just about an hour in a separate bowl. Deseed dates and put them with the soaked tiger nuts into the blender. Also add your diced coconut, ginger and chilli pepper (if using) then blend on high speed into creamy smooth puree. 

Pour out puree into a fine mesh or cloth strainer and filter till only the dry mash is left. Pour mash back into blender, add some water and blend again for a minute. Redo the straining process and combine extracted milk with the first set. Your delicious tiger nut milk is ready to be enjoyed right away with ice or refrigerated! 

***If well preserved, drink can stay up to 2 days without fermenting.

***Don’t throw away your extracted chaff/mash. Simply dry it up and blend into fine flour for baking as a healthy substitute to wheat flour.

Making tiger nut milk is fun and so versatile. You can experiment and enjoy it with a dash of cinnamon or simply add it to any fruit of choice (pineapple, banana, apple, mango...just think any!).