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Making “Ojojo” a popular street food

Temitope Ashipa Written by Cecilia Pat · 3 min read >

Introduction

Ojojo is a popular street food sold commonly sold at street corners in many cities in South-Western Nigeria. It is a soft, spicy snack sold hot and fresh along roads in the cities. It is made from grated water yam which is seasoned with pepper and other condiments. The grated water yam is deep- fried to perfection for a delicious snack.

Women who sell Ojojo sell it hot and fresh, removing it from the sizzling oil draining it in metal strainers to remove excessive oil. How do you identify where Ojojo is sold? Don’t worry, the aroma of the tasty snack will draw you consciously and unconsciously to where it is being sold. In this article, I will describe in detail the steps for preparing this street delicacy.

Introducing Dooney’s Kitchen

The recipe I would be sharing here today is credited to Oladunni Obata of Dooney’s Kitchen. She has a wonderful website which provides unique insights about popular Nigerian dishes. She often describes her personal experience of learning to prepare the dishes from her close relatives over the years. Most importantly, she includes step-by-step instructions on how to prepare different Nigerian dishes, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks (sweet or savory). All these and more are present on the website.

The necessary ingredients for preparing these delicacies are listed on the website. An estimate of the quantities needed to prepare the dishes is included as well. Most importantly, she various tips to avoid pitfalls when preparing these dishes. What a website. Many years ago, I spent hours just browsing through the content on her website. Now let’s make some Ojojo.

List of ingredients:

The following ingredients will be needed to prepare Ojojo for 4-6 people. A serving size of Ojojo is about 4-6 balls.

The Ingredient list:

One medium-sized water yam

1-2 scotch bonnet pepper (called ata rodo in Yoruba) depending on taste preference

Sprinkling of Salt (to taste)

One medium sized onion

Seasoning cubes (1 cube)

Ground crayfish (about two tea spoonful)

Vegetable oil for deep frying (500mls -1 litre)

Tools and equipment:

The following tools and equipment will be used in making Ojojo:

A sharp knife

Chopping board

A bowl

Paper towels

Metal strainer

Medium sized bowl

Ample supply of water for hand washing

Helpful tips:

The first step in making Ojojo and indeed any other dish is to gather the ingredients. It could be quite distressing to have gone far with preparing a particular dish only to discover that a key ingredient is missing. Please save yourself the stress. Gather all the ingredients you will need for the dish before starting to cook. It reduces the chances of food getting burnt or overcooked. Simply put, we are better organised when we gather all our ingredients before we start cooking.

Preparing the ingredients:

Another helpful tip is to bring the ingredients to room temperature before cooking. This helps to speed up the cooking process as well. All cooking ingredients should be removed from the fridge or freezer in good time . This will allow the ingredients to warm up to room temperature before the cooking process begins.

Making Ojojo:

 The first step is to slice the water yam using a sharp knife. Each slice of water yam should be between 3cm to 5cm in thickness. Subsequently, the water yam slices are peeled and soaked in a bowl of water to prevent discoloration. Each slice of water yam is rinsed thoroughly in a bowl of water to remove dirt and other impurities from the yam. The water yam is then sliced into big chunks.

Using a grater, the chunks of water yam are grated into a medium-sized bowl using the smallest holes on the grater. This process is continued until all the water yam has been used up.

Seasoning the water yam

The grated water yam is then seasoned with salt, seasoning cubes or ground crayfish as desired.

Next we prepare the scotch bonnet pepper. The pepper is rinsed under water to remove sand and other impurities. The leaf stalk on the pepper is also removed. using a sharp knife and a chopping board, the pepper is diced into tiny pieces. The diced pepper is added to the bowl of grated water yam.

In a similar manner, we prepare the medium-sized onion. the onion is peeled and rinsed under running water. Using a sharp knife and a chopping board, the onion is diced evenly into vey small pieces. The diced onion is also added to the bowl of grated water yam. With clean hands, the grated water yam and all the other ingredients in the bowl are mixed together thoroughly. This will ensure even distribution of the seasoning and spices within the grated water yam.

Frying the Ojojo

Once this step is completed, a medium sized pot is placed on the fire to heat up for a few minutes. Therafter, about 500mls of vegetable oil is added to the pot on the fire and allowed to heat up for a few minutes. When the heated oil appears shiny, it is ready for the grated water yam.

Next, we take a little quantity of the grated water yam and mold it into small balls using our fingertips. The small balls of grated water yam are then dropped into the hot oil. They are deep fried until they are golden brown in colour. After a few minutes of deep frying, each ball is flipped over using a fork. The Ojojo is ready when each ball is golden brown in colour. Subsequently, it is removed from the hot oil and drained in a metal strainer. Paper towels can be used to remove excess oil from the Ojojo. The process is repeated until the grated water yam is used up.

The result:

Ojojo is best eaten hot. Enjoy it while it is hot and spicy. No need to invite anyone to the table. The enticing aroma of the Ojojo will draw everyone into the kitchen. Don’t be selfish now. Share and enjoy. I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please share your feedback with me on this platform. I would love to hear from you. Stay blessed. #EMBA27

Recipe Source: Oladunni Abata, Dooney’s Kitchen

Picture credit: iStock By Getty Images

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