I literally grew up with chin-chin. It was not only a special occasion dish but also a favorite boarding school snack my mum constantly made and bottled for my siblings who were in boarding school for those times when lunch or supper did not suffice.
Chin-chin is a very common starter in Cameroonian and Nigerian events. It is normally made from white or processed flour, butter and sugar, cut into various fancy shapes and deep fried in hot oil.
About a year ago I started experimenting with traditional heritage flour in the quest of making healthier Cameroonian favorites after learning about the health benefits of our typical foods. I’ve tried making puff-puff, pancakes and crepes (click to learn how to make cassava crepes) and of all, making chin-chin has been the most difficult task for me. After 6 attempts and 2 catastrophes, I can finally present with my head held high my cassava chin-chin recipe. Please bear in mind that I am still working on the recipes to make them even more delicious and healthy, therefore I recommend you subscribe to receive recipe updates.
In my first attempt, I messed up the water, milk ratio which made the batter ultra-soft and not knead able. I couldn’t figure out what quantity of cassava flour could be substituted for white flour we normally use. A one-to-one substitution was not a good option because cassava flour and refined flour had different textures. Remember that cassava flour when cooked into fufu is chewy and I didn’t want to have a chewy chin-chin. It was really hard to control for chewiness.
The next huddle was how to get the right quantity of butter, egg and baking powder. My idea was to create a mixture of batter that could be baked without drying up. I failed woefully. My baked cassava chin-chin was dry, dusty, and strong: a complete disaster. So I decided to try something else: first to substitute the ingredients from my mum’s recipe with healthier ingredients while adjusting to get the right batter consistency first for deep frying and then for baking to create an even healthier version of chin-chin and it worked.
I wanted to create a sugar free recipe, so I substituted sugar with unsweetened dried dates and raisins which soaked in water overnight to facilitate blending. I also added soaked dried mixed nuts to add some crunch and unsweetened dried coconut to my chin chin.
SmartCooks Secret: Mix wet ingredient with half of the flour first to ensure thorough mixing, then add the rest of flour at the end and knead until smooth.
You will notice that the consistency at the end of kneading your chin-chin is not as “hard” as the normal chin-chin consistency. Don’t panic! That the perfect result we are aiming at. The other thing is, this chin-chin dough is quite sticky thus hard to roll. I tried to roll it out it was really time consuming so I decided to make small chin-chin balls with my palms. This made things much easier and less time consuming.
I am really happy with the end result for now. Though it is deep fried, it still trans fat free (click the “dig in” button on the recipe for more insight into the nutritive value) and it is also low in sodium (salt) which makes it a healthier alternative and can be consumed every other month or on special occasions. I am still working on the perfect recipe for baking. In the mean time, subscribe so you never miss a recipe update. I love to learn and improve my skills so your suggestions on how to ameliorate this recipe will be highly appreciated. I hope you try it and leave your feedback in the comments area below.
Happy and healthy cooking xoxo