Food triggers memories, and it should be fun to hear what sorts of memories different foods trigger for us. When I see Beske (Awara/Tofu), I remember walking to my mum’s patent medicine store around the abattoir at Bodija Ibadan, from where we lived in Agbowo. There was an old woman who fried Beske all day and she always seemed to sell out quick. Curiosity made me buy and taste of course my mother never knew. It was really delicious and that was the first of many purchases. For my younger sister, it reminds her of her secondary school which ran on a vegetarian diet for religious reasons
For my husband, it triggers a memory of austere times when they fed on Tofu one time too many, to the extent that he has now developed an aversion to it. Expectedly when this was made only my sister and I feasted on it.
Tofu is faux cheese made from SoyMilk curds. Awara or Beske is the local name for Tofu amongst Yoruba speaking people in Nigeria.
Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also a valuable plant source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese and phosphorousBritannica
Making Awara/Beske even though it requires a couple of steps is pretty easy. The basic ingredients are Soya beans, Water and a Coagulant. The steps required are just like making Soya Milk but the fun starts once a coagulant is added. What makes Beske / Awara different from other Tofu is the frying. Frying the Awara completes the preparation process. Air frying or baking or grilling are healthier options if you like.
- Soya (Soy) Beans
- Coagulant (you can used either Liquified Alum or Vinegar or Lime Juice, see notes below)
- *Spices (blitzed peppers are traditionally used)
- *Vegetable oil for frying
* Items in asterisks are optional.
Notes on the types of Coagulants. Alum is most commonly used, it is an effective coagulant and it mostly neutral in taste. It gives the Beske a firmness, if used in excess can become hard. Lime Juice and Vinegar very effective coagulants, the texture of the Beske will be firm however not as firm as alum, if used in excess they will impact the taste of the Beske significantly.
- Sort the beans to remove impurities especially if you bought the unsorted ones from the open market
- Rinse thoroughly and soak for a few minutes. The outer coat of Soya beans is a little tough to remove, so soaking for a few minutes will soften it first.
- Peel the beans to remove the outer coat, rinse and repeat continuously until all the coat is removed.
- In a blender or industrial mill, grind the beans to a smooth thick paste with water.
- Add water twice the amount of the paste, into the paste. And mix it till it is loose.
- Get a sieve cloth (muslin or cheesecloth) the type for Ogi and sieve out the milk from the beans chaff. Squeeze till all the milk is out.
- Add a little more water to the chaff and squeeze one more time. This is to ensure you get out all the milk.
- In a large pot (you need a very large pot because soya milk froths over), pour in the raw milk and boil.
- You will need to stand over the pot as you cook this, to skim off the froth and to watch it to keep it from boiling over.
- Cook for at least 20 mins, on medium heat, to bring it to a boil
- Slowly add coagulant, in little bits and watch as the milk splits. Don’t add all at once or too much, it may alter the taste and texture if you add too much.
- Once split, turn the heat off, and strain the milk curds with a sieve cloth and squeeze out all the water.
- Add salt, and spices and mix in till the spices are well incorporated into the curd.
- Return into the sieve cloth, tie it in firmly and squeeze further. Place on a flat surface and place a heavy weighted item on it and leave the rest water to ooze out.
- Once firm cut to shapes.
- Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. A healthier option will be baking or air frying.
See Pictorial below
Fried beske/awara can be eaten immediately, or stored in a refrigerator in an airtight container. And it can be served in many different ways, including being cooked in soup as the protein source.