Our church when I was growing up had a stall run by the Helps Team (the benevolence or charity group). Every Sunday the stall sold snacks, drinks and small packs of food. The profit made from these weekly sales went into charity and supporting families of members who were going through a hard time financially. Most of the items sold were purchased from members to support their small business. That’s where I tasted Kunu Zaki for the first time.
To be honest I didn’t quite like Kunu Zaki as a child. Some of the ones I drank, I found the ginger a little overpowering, but there are so many things I didn’t quite enjoy as a child that I now consume with relish.
Kunu Zaki originally is from northern Nigeria and it is loosely called Kunu here in Lagos. There are different types of Kunu, Kunu Zaki (made with millet + potato), Kunu Aya (Tigernut+Coconut +Date), Kunu Gyada ( Groundnut + Rice + Tsamiya) you also have Kunu akamu, Kunu tsamiya, Kunu baule, Kunu jiko, Amshau and Kunu gayamba etc. It is safe to assume that the prefix “Kunu” loosely translates as “Drink“. And whatever it is made from forms name.
Here is how to make Kunu Zaki
Ingredients (makes 5-6 litres)
- 3 cups Millet
- 2 large fresh Ginger
- 3 large raw Sweet Potato
- 1 tbsp cloves
- Sugar or sweetener of choice
- Wash millet thoroughly to remove impurities. Soak your millet overnight or 24 hrs tops.
- Wash ginger and chop in large chunks.
- Strain the soaked millet and set it aside with chunks of ginger and cloves to grind
- Peel and chop your sweet potato into small cubes. Keep the sweet potato cubes submerged in water.
- Take them to a grinding mill and grind both separate into a paste. If you have a strong blender that 1000w above you can blend at home. Blend with just sufficient water to get it to a smooth slurry
- Using a cheese or sieve cloth, sieve both separately to remove the chaff. And leave it to settle till the water on top is clear. Decant some of the water leaving just enough to mix to the paste till it is light (*Don’t discard the water)
- Bring some water to boil in a pot. Turn the heat down and slowly pour the millet mix. Stir continuously as though you are making pap (ogi/akamu/koko)
- Stir slowly in circular motions and consistently until it starts to thicken. Keep the same pace stirring, if it looks too thick, loosen it up with the water you decanted from the millet paste. Add water till is a runny consistency
- Turn the heat off. Allow the millet to cool down, then add the loose Potato paste and stir it in properly.
- Add your sweetener, store in a tightly covered bottled
Some people make Kunu Zaki without sweet potato. What they do is split the millet blend into two halves. Cook one half and add the other half into the cooled cooked part. There is nothing wrong with that. You can try that instead.
- Serve really chilled.