Kwanzaa Culinarians

Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora

Nigerian Chin-Chin by Yetunde Rodriguez

By Yetunde of YetundeRodriguez.com

Making Chin Chin by Yetunde Rodriguez

Making Chin Chin by Yetunde Rodriguez

Chin-Chin is one of the most popular and easily recognizable Nigerian (or West African, for that matter) snacks. It is a snack that is made for special occasions, such as  weddings, christenings, funerals or birthday parties. Chin-chin is basically a dough made of the usual suspects: flour, sugar, eggs, butter, nutmeg that is cut into bite sized pieces and deep fried to a hard crunch. It is delicious, though not overly sweet.

The making of Chin-Chin is also inextricably tied to some of my fondest childhood memories of growing up in Nigeria.  The general feeling was that if we were making Chin-Chin, good things were happening, or there was about to be a big party, because one doesn’t simply make Chin-Chin for no reason.

Making Chin-Chin was a communal event, as it was usually made in large batches. Everyone was involved, from the Matriarch of the household to the youngest child… each person had a part.

The prep work usually resembles a factory. The adults were in charge of measuring, mixing and kneading the dough until it was just right. The older kids would portion out and flatten the dough. Then would come the cutting of thin strips of dough, at which point the thin strips would be passed on to the younger children to cut into their final bite size pieces. At this point the adults would once again appear to collect the bite sized pieces to get them fried in the sizzling hot oil. The frying usually took place outside in extremely large shallow vats of oil sitting atop a makeshift fire-pit. The adults would take turns stoking the fire, moving the Chin-Chin around with long handled utensils and ultimately harvesting them out of the oil. Sometimes some of us kids would sneak off with a few pieces of dough (or whatever else was being made by the adults). We would make our own little fire pits and pots of oil with discarded tin cans to make our own Chin-Chin in the back It was a glorious time and place to be a child!

These large-scale cooking events fueled my love of cooking. Growing up watching Aunts, Cousins and other extended family execute this well orchestrated choreography of cooking taught me everything I need to know. Although the opportunity to cook like this is practically non-existent in my modern-day life, I hold those memories dear, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

Chin-Chin Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3-½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) margarine/butter
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • oil, for frying

Method

  • Using a mixer or by hand mix the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, nutmeg and lime zest
  • Add the butter to the flour and mix well until the butter is well incorporated with the flour.
  • Add milk and egg into the mixture. Keep mixing until you have formed a sticky dough ball
  • Dump the dough ball onto a floured surface and knead, incorporating more flour into the dough as needed, until the dough is smooth, elastic, and even in color and no longer sticky. Chin-chin can be cut into many shapes and sizes
  • Divide dough in half .On a floured board roll each half about inches thick. Just like linguine or fettuccine. You can make it easy by using a pasta machine if you have one available. Make shapes as desired.
  • Add oil (about 3 inches deep) to a heated skillet/sauce pan or my all time favorite Dutch oven that is over medium heat and bring it to 375 degrees .
  • Fry in hot oil until golden. Remove from oil, drain, and serve. You can store this in an air tight container for up to a month.

About Kwanzaa Culinarians

KwanzaaCulinarians.com is a group of food bloggers of African descent collaborating to share recipes and stories celebrating Kwanzaa. Besides sharing recipes, Kwanzaa Culinarians recognizes food-related influencers with thought-provoking stories and discussions within Kwanzaa’s principles.

One comment on “Nigerian Chin-Chin by Yetunde Rodriguez

  1. Great pictures, I haven’t had chin chin for years. I never thought about making my own either, very inspirational.

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The word "Kwanzaa" comes from the phrase, "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first-fruits." Kwanzaa's extra "a" evolved as a result of a particular history of the Organization Us. It was clone as an expression of African values in order to inspire the creativity of our children. In the early days of Us, there were seven children who each wanted to represent a letter of Kwanzaa. Since kwanza (first) has only six letters, we added an extra "a" to make it seven, thus creating "Kwanzaa." To learn more about Kwanzaa, visit the Official Kwanzaa Website.

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