There can never be a warning about the Nigerian Tofu Wara Soya from the Federal Ministry of Health or the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Definitely not against the ‘PAN-African’ drink. It’s not tobacco, you know!
The health benefits of this Nigerian version of cheese curd, mostly made from fresh cow milk, far outweigh the downside.
The name might be a tongue twister, but a recent review suggests that the Tofu Wara Soya protects against illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. This soy food also promotes bone and brain health.
The milk variant of Wara contains the same nutrients you can find in yoghurt or milk. It’s rich in fat, protein and a negligible amount of carbohydrates.
It contains vitamins and minerals such as calcium, Vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, sodium, riboflavin, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K2. The Wara has “probiotics” – good bacteria that help regulate the gut flora.
Bean Curd or Tofu is a plant-based product. So, it contains the same nutrients found in soya bean milk. It is an excellent source of protein, iron, calcium and minerals: manganese, selenium, magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamin B1 and phosphorous.
Therefore, from a nutritional and health perspective, Tofu Wara Soya is a great addition to a well-rounded diet. That said, some negative health effects are associated with eating too much cheese. To avoid such negative effects, moderate consumption is advised.
Are you still interested in knowing how to make the Nigerian Tofu Wara Soya? Let’s get started.
What is Tofu?
Wara Soya, aka Nigerian Tofu, is a local soybean cheese curd. It is commonly consumed in the northern part of the country. The dish can be eaten with stew, soup, or local delicacies.
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Origin of Tofu
Tofu originates from China. It’s made of condensed soy milk that’s pressed into solid white blocks, similar to cheese making. A mineral-rich coagulant, Nigari, solidifies Tofu and keeps it formed.
Tofu has been around for centuries. In Nigeria, the Tofu Wara originates from Wara, a city in Kwara State. It has different names depending on the vicinity. It’s called Cottage cheese in North America, Paneer in India, Woagachi or Wagassirou in the Benin Republic, and Mashanza in Zaire, to mention but a few.
In the basest form, the Tofu Wara Soya is made by curdling animal-based milk like cow/goat milk or plant-based milk such as soya milk. The proteins and fats, which are the solid parts, are separated from the liquid part (water and whey) after the curdling process and pressed together.
Once prepared, it comes out white, unsalted and uncoloured. It can be eaten alone as a snack once fried (which is known as Beske or Awara) or as an addition to various cuisines.
Tofu Wara Soya is often eaten or sold within a day because of the poor shelf life of the cheese.
Types of Wara
Two major types of Wara are eaten and sold in Nigeria. They are Wara Milk, made from fresh cow milk, and Wara Soya, made from soy milk.
The Nigerian Tofu Wara Soya can be purchased in bulk or in single packages. And the consistency ranges from soft to extra-firm. The delicacy is available in both shelf-stable and refrigerated varieties. You can also find it dehydrated, jarred, freeze-dried, or canned.
Tofu sold in stores requires more processing therefore, relatively fewer ingredients are used. It usually contains soybeans, water, and seasoning (optional). Other ingredients are coagulants such as calcium sulphate, magnesium chloride, or delta gluconolactone.
Once you’ve opened the processed Tofu bought from a store, you can refrigerate it for up to a week. If you have a deep freezer, the better. You can keep its original package for up to five months.
Do not despair if you don’t have a fridge or freezer. You can store your Nigerian Tofu Wara Soya in a jar submerged in water. Just change the water every other day.
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Nigerian Tofu Wara Soya Recipe
There are other Tofu recipes like the West African Tofu dish, Cameroon Tofu dish, Ghanaian Tofu dish, the Soybean ball recipe, the Soyabean patty recipe, the African appetizer recipe, and the Vegan West African dish. We shall, however, focus on our own – the Nigerian Tofu Wara Soya recipe. Charity begins at home!
Ingredients of the Nigerian Tofu Wara Soya
Diced onions, pepper (Optional)
Blender or grinding machine
How to make Nigerian Tofu Wara Soya
Separate the stones and other foreign material from the soya beans and rinse thoroughly in cold water. You can skip this step if you’ve purchased packaged soya beans from a store.
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Soak the beans for a maximum of 10 hours. You must use a large bowl with a lot of water because the soya beans swell and rise to about three times their original size.
Drain the water and rinse the soya beans.
Use a blender, food processor, or grinding machine to grind the beans to a smooth texture. Add a lot of water to aid the grinding process.
Add water to the bean paste until a watery consistency is achieved.
Strain out the mixture over a large bowl. The milk will remain in the bowl, while the chaff will stay in the bag. Discard the chaff. Continue to add water until the liquid from the cloth loses its milky complexity. This gets the most out of your soya beans.
Drain the milk into large bowls and boil.
Continue to boil for up to 20 minutes to get soymilk. After boiling, let it cool in the pot. Strain the liquid to remove the film that forms above the milk. Then spice it up to your taste. After that, bottle and refrigerate it.
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Now, let’s go back to the Wara. As the milk is heating, prepare your diced vegetables and salt solution. Dilute some salt in half a cup of warm water.
Once it boils, add in vegetables, and then gradually add the salt solution.
Boil for a few more minutes but ensure that the liquid is separated from the curds. Add less or more of the salt solution as you deem fit.
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Prepare the porous sack. Then put the contents of the pot into the bag.
Press out the excess liquid from the bag. You can use a big wooden spoon or a turning stick for this.
Wrap up the bag. Then place a heavy object on the wrapped bag.
Let the water drain for about 20 minutes
What’s left in the bag is a solid block of Wara ready to be spiced and shaped into so many nutritious dishes.
One of the many reasons we love the Nigerian Tofu Wara Soya is that it crosses all borders. With one mouthful, you’re eating a traditional Northern Nigerian delicacy, a Ghanaian dessert, a Cameroonian feast, a Senegalese dainty, a Chinese cuisine, and an American delight. Oh, what an international treat!