Arewa Cooking Utensils
Can You Remember those local Hausa cooking items?
Call me “Old School” but I cherish my traditional, Arewa cooking utensils, even if I would use them occassionally. Although many modern, more complex alternatives have replaced them, I feel pleasure when I see them. They might look ancient and feel awkward but growing up as a child, I remember seeing them being used. I was taught how to use them-thanks to my grandmother, my aunt and mother-in-law.
One morning, I decided to make “tuwon shinkafa” and “Miyan taushe” for dinner. I used a metallic soup ladle to scoop the tuwo but the laddle was very hot and I struggled the whole time. I suddenly remembered I had “mara”, which is wooden and will not conduct heat. So, I quickly brought it out from the store, washed it and used it to scoop and dish out the tuwo. “Ah! What a relief!” I said to myself.
But this got me thinking. I realized that either I have boxed the traditional cooking items in the store or I did not even have some of them. I decided to embark on search mission. I gathered my local cooking items together and keep them in the kitchen, visibly, where I could see them and use them. I also bought a few others and added to my collection.
I want to share with you some local Arewa cooking items. For some, it will be a reminder that the items still exist. For others, they get to know and see them for the first time. Here we go…
This is used to scoop out tuwo from the pot. It is very light and comfortable to use. The repeated back-and-forth movement during the scooping process also makes the tuwo fluffy and easier to swallow.
Small and bowl-like, it is for swirling the tuwo into balls. It gives tuwo that smooth, appealing look and texture.
Fai-fai has many uses. It could be used to cover a pot (or any other container) or to separate grains from dirt or stones.
Years back, only the rich and affluent could afford to buy “Uncle Ben’s” rice. Most Nigerian families cooked locally-grown Nigerian rice which contained lots of stones and debris. And believe me, if rice is the meal for dinner, I would have poured in on matankadi and began picking stones from 2 pm. By 4 pm, it was “clean” and fit for eating. This cooking item is used to separate all types of grains from stones and debris. The technique for doing this must be learnt though.
This is a bigger version of koko. It is typically used for washing grains and sometimes for storing the grains. It could be used for general storage purposes too. Remember the one used by Fulani women to sell “nono”? Matankadi is typically used as its cover.
Tukunya is a very broad term for pot in Hausa, depending on what you cook in it. It is made of clay. Typically covered with fai-fai or with a cover also made of clay. A small soup pot is called “tukunyar miya”. A larger one for tuwo is called “tukunyar tuwo”. It is also used for many cooking purposes, as a pot.
As I write about muciya, I laugh. This is because it was used beyond the kitchen, especially by mothers. I recall it was one of those readily accessible items used for spanking children when they erred. But that is not its main function. It should be used for stirring, turning tuwo, to make it into the smooth dough we know it for.
Nowadays I see women, especially younger women, use cooking spoon to whisk “miyan kuka”. It really looks awkward to me. And, truth be told, it does not give the soup a smooth taste and feel. Bulagari does this magic. It never fails. It is basically used for whisking any liquid to achieve smoothness. Fulani women use it to whisk nono.
Ludayi (or ludaya for more than one) is used as a spoon for scooping liquids or pastes. It comes in small and big sizes, depending what you serve. Small size is for sipping “koko” and “nono” while bigger size is used as a serving spoon for large quantity of liquids.
I believe traditional cooking items still have their place in a modern kitchen; especially if you feel attached to your roots. You also want to keep them for posterity. Your children deserve to know and see them. Or, better yet, they may someday be antiques.
Share your views on the use of arewa cooking utensils in modern day. Send your arewa cooking utensils and let us share the cultural spirit. I will be happy to post them in part 2 of this article.