Groundnuts, groundnuts, everywhere.
It is groundnuts ( or peanuts for some people) harvest season in my area southeast Nigeria. Usually, early harvest begins from late May, though not very much. The months of June and July are the peak harvest season for groundnuts in my locality. By August, fresh groundnuts begin to gradually disappear from the market and from our menu.
However, we can still get fresh groundnuts from the northern parr of Nigeria. Traders start importing fresh groundnuts until December when it becomes almost impossible to still get fresh groundnuts unless you farm by irrigation.
Talking about groundnuts farming,Nigeria is the third highest producer of groundnuts worldwide, after China and India (have you heard of the groundnut pyramids in Nigeria?)1 The three countries together are responsible for more than 50% of all the groundnuts in the globe. If you have availability of a certain crop, I bet you will find ways to make it more useful. This is exactly what we do with groundnuts here.
If you are wondering why all the fuss about just peanuts, then you must be unaware of how much nutritional value you can get from groundnuts. Groundnut is rich in vitamins and minerals like biotin, copper, niacin, folate, manganese, vitamin E, thiamine, phosphorus, and magnesium.2 It is also known for healthy fats and low carb content, which means it is great for diabetic patients and people who do not want to gain weight.2
Groundnut skin has also been found to contain antioxidants.2
Have you ever wondered how groundnuts grow? Are groundnuts creepers and climbers like some other legumes? Do groundnuts seeds sprout on the shoot or on the roots? How many pods can you find on a single plant? Are groundnuts cultivated all year round? What’s the length of time from planting to harvesting?
Well here are your answers: Groundnuts are not climbers; their growth is quite straightforward. They don’t go more than 75cm or thereabout in height. And…don’t be surprised…they are root crops. Each plant can carry a handful of groundnut pods on its roots. Groundnuts are annual crops. Farmers in Nigeria begin planting their groundnuts from when the first rains begin. It takes about three months to be ready for harvest.
Nigerians may get a little extra creative with what they do with groundnuts, but they haven’t stopped eating them the way everyone else does theirs.
Groundnut is edible upon harvesting. So it can be a snack option for harvesters. Just wash off all the damp soil clinging to the pods and you have incredible first grade food – fresh from the farm.
You can only enjoy boiled groundnuts when they are freshly harvested. From May to October, the period around which groundnut is cultivated and harvested, you will find hawkers balancing trays of boiled groundnuts on their head, moving from street to street, or have it in sacks inside a wheelbarrow.
When you want to buy, the hawkers ask, “Half-done or full-done?” to determine your preference between blanched groundnuts that retain some of that fresh farm taste or completely boiled groundnuts that remind you of cooked beans.
Roasted Groundnuts is the all-season favourite. Plus, it inspires a good number of the groundnut derivatives we want to talk about. Inside malls and marts, you will find groundnuts dehusked and filled into transparent bottles, for sale. In kiosks, you will find them wrapped in small see-through nylon bags. You can snack on it this way. Or mix it with popcorn (yeah, just popcorn is too light for an average Nigerian. Lol) or any other snack you want to make more filling.
Perhaps the most popular use of roasted groundnuts is to soak it with garri (cassava flakes), milk and sugar added. It is the commonest instant food for university students in Nigeria.
Groundnuts have been made into many other things by Nigerians, some of them common to people from elsewhere, others peculiar to Nigerians alone. Here is a list of these groundnuts derivatives, how they are made and what they are used for.
Both children and adults enjoy this crispy snack. It’s origin is the Hausa people of Northern Nigeria. To make kulikuli, roasted groundnuts are grounded to a grainy consistency, the groundnut oil is pressed out of the pulp with the aid of water. After the oil has been drained out, the grounded groundnuts is mixed with a little sugar (if you want it sweet) or pepper (if you want it spicy), then shaped into small cylinders or flat circles or any other desired shape. You may go ahead to bake them or fry them till they are a deep brown in colour.
Because peanut butter is common in other places, we won’t dwell on it. Let’s talk about something similar to peanut butter.Ose Oji
Oji means kola in the Igbo Language, and refers to the first food item you use to welcome a visitor. Normally, oji could be the real oji (kola nut) or garden egg. Ose Oji looks like peanut butter – roasted groundnuts grounded to a paste. The difference is that chilli pepper is added to it as well as other spices that make it really hot and spicy. It is eaten mostly with the garden eggs. The ose Oji can serve as butter for bread if you don't mind the hotness.
Most Nigerians call it just “peanuts”. Peanut burger is groundnuts coated in a mixture of flour and egg and deep fried in oil. It serves as snacks and can be filling.
The Hausa people of the northern Nigeria make different drinks from various grains and nuts. The kunun Gadya is a drink made from groundnuts.
This oil pressed out of grounded groundnuts. Since a good number of Nigerian foods can be fried, or requires the use of oil in its making, groundnut oil serves an important purpose in the kitchen.
Soup in Nigeria is used to eat “swallow,” a general English term for smooth food that is meant to be dipped into a sauce and swallowed not chewed. What determines the name given to a kind of soup is the vegetable used in making it or the thickener used in the soup. Groundnut soup is named after the thickener used for it. Raw groundnuts that has been stored overtime is grounded with the skin intact, and the texture at the end is between mashy and grainy. Any vegetable can be used to make groundnut soup. The taste of it is inviting.
This is not a traditional Nigerian food, this cake is used for animal feed. A very rich source of nutrients for our animals
If you love groundnuts (even if you don’t “love” them but at least you don’t have an allergy for them) you may want to try these different derivatives of it. Who knows, you might just enjoy how crunchy Kuli-kuli is, or the spiciness of ose oji, or even the pleasant taste of groundnut soup. Explore these groundnuts derivatives and tell us what you think.