Some states in Northern Nigeria are known for specific delicacies. Nazeef Bakura and Mustapha Goni Adam write on the delicacies from Kano, Gombe and Bauchi states.
It is common for every geographical setting and certain communities to have something unique about their culture, religion, ideology, trade, weather and so many things which set them apart from others.
These specialties could be quite alluring, as they attract tourists and adventurers from within and outside the locality.
Just as a visitor or tourist would not go to Italy or South Korea without enjoying pizza and kimchi, some quarters in Nigeria are known for some special cuisines and delicacies.
The most visited and savoured are the gurasa which is almost exclusive to Kano, the masa in Bauchi and fura da nono of Gombe.
The Gurasa of Kano
In the ancient city of Kano, gurasa remains an ideal snack; one for which the people have been popular with for over centuries.
Before the advent of bread, gurasa was and still used as bread. By some twists, today’s bread is even referred to as ‘gurasa’in some quarters in Kano.
Gurasa got its name from the Arabic word ‘khubz,’ (bread). It is made in various households and local factories in the entire state
In no time, it was being sold in every nook and cranny of Kano and environs. While some hawked it, others displayed it in their stores, like the popular ‘suya tukuba (suya stand)’.
Gurasa is made from wheat, using a traditional fry-pan (tanda) to fry it. Microwave ovens have come in handy in making the process more hygienic and giving it a great ‘home’ feel.
When fried, it becomes circular and milky from the centre, with brownish edges, due to over-heating. It is starchy in the course of making it into pieces and tough if exposed to air or kept for more than three days after production.
Gurasa is can be classified into two categories: special and local one. People consider a category special because of how it is processed. The special ‘gurasa’ consists of the milky, salty and the sugary varieties, with vegetable and spice garnishes, just like its Asian variety.
A resident of Kano, Kakazarah Muhammad Balum and huge lover of gurasa, link the modern additions in gurasa to the developments and evolving creativity in food craft.
“Almost all our traditional recipes have been affected one way or the other by modernization. Our people do copy from other cultures and add to our existing recipes, which will eventually become something new and trending in society.
“The ‘dambun nama’ that we used to know back then isn’t exactly the same today. They have got additional ingredients that give it a significant taste and texture. It is a welcome development.”
For Yaa Kaka, the modernization of the ‘gurasa’ has not stopped the true, local one from being made.
“While today’s ‘gurasa’ turns out to be modernised because of the modification, the one with the original recipe is still being produced but is less expensive than the ‘modern’ one.”
Every evening, in most populated and commercially active streets of Kano, the pleasant aroma of freshly-made ‘gurasa’, in a decorative show glass, is hawked along the streets for residents and visitors.
The special ‘gurasa’ is very much like pancake, but only thicker. It is topped with a slice of cucumber, chopped lettuce, cabbage, ‘yaji’, onion and ground pepper spread all over, to give aroma and spice.
In many homes, during festivities and at wedding ‘fatihas’, it is presented to special guests; even more interesting is the fact that it has come in handy as a form of earning a living for those who make and sell it commercially.
‘Masar Bauchi’ was the popular identity for every ‘masa’ in the North, irrespective of the state or town the ‘masa’ was made. The reason is simple: the orign of ‘masa’ is rooted in the state.
Traditionally, in Hausaland, ‘masa’ is used occasionally in the ceremonial and festive periods, more commonly during breakfast.
Every morning, in streets of Bauchi and in other cities in Northern Nigeria, commercial ‘masa’ makers from various households and in the joints are ready to sell the delicacy, with ‘miya’, to willing consumers.
While the queues for the delicacy are usually lengthy, some prefer to eat it on the spot, others buy and take away.
‘Masa’ is made from non-parboiled rice, yeast, sugar, salt, potash, yogurt, flour, oil, among others.
The rice is ground and mixed with the other ingredients, then left to macerate for some hours, before it is ready for frying.
‘Masa’ is fried like pancakes, but not entirely so. The pan for frying ‘masa’ has multiple deep holes which leaves it shape on the masa.
Masa is popularly served with ‘yajin karago’ – made from groundnut cake pepper, with garlic seasoning, spinach soup (a vegetable soup called ‘miyan alayyahu’), stew, egusi soup, pepper soup, oxtail soup, among others.
It is usually served, wrapped in paper especially by the commercial ‘masa’ sellers. This helps it regain its natural taste and texture for some time. When it is wrapped with paper, it neither swells nor gets wet.
‘Masa’ happens to be the leading snack in most occasions in Bauchi; and the residents and celebrants prioritise its availability in occasions.
Just as tourists get amused and, then, enjoy it when they are served at the Yankari Game Reserve, dignitaries at occasions (especially non-natives) eat it, love it and demand for more.
According to renowned ‘masa’ maker and merchant, the delicacy became popular, because of its availability and the affordability of its key ingredients in the state.
“For the people of Bauchi, ‘masa’ is a special food that has no specific time of consumption. They cherish it a lot. Thus, every ethnic group likes it, as they fry it just as Hausas do,” she said.
According to the merchant, she has made ‘masa’ at a number of events in many states of Northern Nigeria, where t is enjoyed with ‘suya’ or soups of choice.
“I have been invited to make ‘masa’ in Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Gombe, Katsina, Sokoto and Plateau. The invitations come from some passers-by, travelers, customers and those who know my reputation from their relatives here in Bauchi and many others.”
It is not strange to see people of all ethnic groups travel to Bauchi and return with the famous ‘masa Bauchi,’ as a present for their loved ones, many of whom have never tasted it.
Gombe’s Fura da Nono
Fura da nono is a locally made yogurt available in the Fulani communities in Sahara and sub-saharan African countries.
In Nigeria, Gombe State is stands out with Fura da nono. It was common in every nook and cranny of the state.
Fura, a boiled millet with jinger and pepper spices, is one of the best complementary delicacies of nono. It is usually is usually shaped into a ball and powdered with millet flour to keep it from stacking.
An alternative to ‘fura’ is “dambu.” But fura is much more preferred and acceptable.
When fura is put through adequate cooking process, it lasts up to three days without getting spoilt.
On the other hand, ‘nono’ which is Hausa word for yogurt, is called kwasam in Fulani. It is a natural cow milk boiled to become yogurt. When the cow is milked, the milk is boiled and put in a calabash or any other container, little drops of left over yogurt are added to help in turning the boiled milk to a processed yogurt after some hours.
Fura da Nono, when mixed, gives a good taste and boasts of a range of vitamins and other health benefits. Traditionally, it is served in a calabash and sipped with a wooden spoon (kwarya da ludayi), that also gives it a natural outlook.
Fura da nono is Gombe’s treasure for guests and natives and a gift to take home.