When you grow up in the north, there are specific snacks that must have made your childhood. And if they didn’t, go and claim Lagos as your state. When everyone else is reminiscing about the good times of Goody Goody and baba dudu, northern kids are thinking about these seven snacks.
If you grew up in the north and didn’t have a massive tree with yellow fruits called licky licky on your street or in your school, your childhood wasn’t complete. Scientifically, the tree is called the black velvet tamarind tree, but that’s not our business. It’s called licky licky because you suck on the fruit until it melts away in your mouth like candy. Some people chew it, but we don’t judge here.
Fried chinge/grasshopper and yaji
“Chinge” are those insects that gather around lightbulbs when it rains. When you fry them and eat them with seasoned pepper, your life will change forever.. Secondary school was the best because we’d have them tied in nylons and hidden somewhere for break time.
Buying ridi after school with your last change was something special. Ridi is simply sesame seeds covered in sugar syrup, then dried and cut into different shapes and allowed to cool. So ridi is basically the candy of the north. You can’t say you grew up in the north without having memories of gathering all the ₦5 to your name to buy ridi.
Masa was everything. I think of it as tiny fluffy pancakes made from rice. You can imagine it as akara because, unlike pancakes, they puff up when you fry them. Even as an adult, I daydream about masa doused in suya pepper after work. Sometimes, masa is made from millet but isn’t as sweet as when it’s made with rice, so you’d want something sweet like sugar or syrup to the mix.
You can still get these outside the north, but nothing compares to the kuli kuli an elderly woman from Maiduguri or Jos prepares. Kuli kuli is basically chin chin made from groundnut. The groundnut is ground into a paste and mixed with hot water to help extract all the oil. After that, the residue is rolled into different shapes and fried with the groundnut oil you separated from the mix.
Once you put dankwa in your mouth, it melts. It was a savoury snack for long car rides or walks because you’d find it sold on almost every street. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the most accessible street snacks in and out of the north. Dankwa is made from dried millet or groundnut that’s mixed with seasoning, particularly pepper and salt, and rolled into balls.
I know I said ridi was the candy of the north, but this is the real OG. It’s literally water and sugar mixed with food colouring for variety. It may be the quickest way to die of diabetes, but alewa was everything you needed for a good day as a kid. If I wasn’t trying to outlive my grandmother, I’d still buy it almost every day.
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