I had such a wonderful girls sleep over weekend, it was one for the books. A trip up North which was supposed to be just with a very good friend of mine and her family, turned into a girls weekend because we got 2 other women to join us. For one of them, we had never met her before, but we’ve all had such a great online connection for months now, you know how you feel like someone is your person, and when you finally meet, you hit it off immediately. We shall call her D. Then comes another friend whom we had met in person just once, but a friendship has ben building online for months, and she said oh, can I come over, totally un-planned, she got on the train and that’s how all four of us came together, it was like a coming together of old friends, a la Sex and The City. We shall call her A. I am feeling all Pretty Little Liars now, hehehehehehehehe. Gosh, that show is so stupid, I can’t believe it is still on, and so popular for that matter. When I posted “How to make Amala using a hand mixer” (click HERE), someone named Bev, left this comment.
“Dunni, did you say Starch? Throws down the gauntlet and yells CHALLENGE!!!!!!!!!!!!* I am ready to be a believer because I can’t imagine starch going through a mixer since it bakes off the heat from the pan as supposed to others that steam. The starch will just seize your mixer, being all rude and throwing gang signs, lol”.
You guys know by now that I don’t back down from a food challenge, especially one involving proving a point about Modern Nigerian cooking. You may have read me whine and complain about making starch months ago. Click HERE. My goodness, no wonder many of our mums and grandma’s from the Niger Delta had killer arms, that would make Michelle Obama jealous. Making starch is no mean feat. My grandmother only allowed me go halfway before taking over the wooden spoon from me. Watching her wrestle with the thing was fascinating, but why on earth should making food be that hard. Starch is right up there with Pounded Yam.
We have slayed pounded yam in a food processor and other kitchen devices. In February, I compiled a list of all kitchen gadgets that can make pounded yam. Click HERE to see the list, scroll to the end. If you are still making pounded yam traditionally, allow me to wag my finger at you. Even if it is done by your domestic staff, save them please, and move over to the cool cooks corner. Now, it is time to triumphantly announce that we are going to slay Starch, 2014 Nigerian Cooking style. Use a hand mixer. I had the confidence to try this because 2 weeks ago, I blended frozen green plantains and I used a hand mixer from start to finish over my cooker. It was amazing. I tried it twice, and thought wow, this is toooooooo cool. It will be published on the other site I write for.
The true measure of creative people is not entirely linked to inventing something new, but taking what already exists and making it better, or trying out other possibilities. Steve Jobs did not invent the computer, Microsoft already existed, and look at what Steve built. He didn’t even invent the tablet, now the Ipad is the highest selling tablet of all time. Mark Zuckerberg did not invent Social media, MySpace and Hi5 already existed, now see, that under 30yr old is richer than the creators of Google. Those 2 men and so many more of their caliber are my daily inspiration. As I was handed my new Apple babies on Sunday, I reminded myself again, to continually push the boundaries, to explore the possibilities of dishes/cooking methods, to improve on them and to use the influence of this blog to spread the word, irregardless of who has done it before, as long as due credit is given. The cookbook will blow your mind with totally new stuff. Bill Gates reached the Lighthouse, Steve Jobs met him there, passed him and raced to the top. Decades from now, Dooney’s Kitchen would have made an impact, stamped a large footprint on the food world, the kind Apple is known for. Can I hear an AMEN!!!!! Loooool. Let’s Cook
You will need
Powdered starch – i used potato starch (farina), you can also use tapioca starch sold in Asian food stores
1. Dissolve the starch in water to form a semi thick paste. Add Palm oil to the solution. This gives the traditional yellow/orange colour. Place the pot on heat.
2. Attach the hand mixer. The lighting in my friend’s house is a food photographers delight. Thanks to A, my novice photographer, who did an amazing job. Start on low-speed to prevent the solution splashing about.
3. As the solution heats up, you will start to notice it get thicker, like the consistency of Pap. No lumps, no bumps, nothing.
4. As the solution thickens to form one big ball, you need to increase the speed, so the engine can cope with the firmness developing
keep going, making sure your hand is steady on the mixer
5. The speed of the rotating whisk rods, will cause the starch to fill their entire length, not to worry, keep at it. The Starch is nowhere near ready yet.
see how stretchy it is?
6. Switch off the machine for a bit only to scrape the starch down, just so the bits at the top get some heat to cook through. This should take you seconds
see, the pot has been on heat, the entire time. Turn the machine back on
7. and here we go, the starch is cooking. See how it has that smooth, shiny surface, and it is beginning to look translucent. Some bits will still move further up, but not as much.
Remember Bev’s comment above? Well look closely at the bottom of the pot. As the starch bakes/cooks, it detaches cleanly from the bottom of the pot. That is how you know you are doing it right. Ask any Urhobo person, they will tell you.
You know you can count on me to be honest and open with my cooking. Back to Bev’s comment about the starch “seizing your mixer, being all rude and throwing gang signs. Well Bev, is this gangster enough for you? Hehehehehehe.
See how stretchy it is? I would have held on for longer stretching it much farther, but it was too hot to hold for much longer.
Yes, you will face resistance, for sure. Starch is quite like rubber, just keep the mixer steady in your hand and you will do fine. If your mixer has a powerful enough motor, it will do just fine. Trust me, the pressure you will be applying to keep the mixer steady is nowhere near the arm cardio required to make starch using a wooden spoon. Hand on heart, trust me. See, how smooth the starch is. Not a single lump
8. The starch wrapping around the long bit of the whisk rods, will slip down to the pot. You can go on and on, I did, cos I was too excited, but the starch was done, done, done, I have a clean bottom of the pot to prove it. The yellow burnt bits, just came from me still keeping it on heat. See, how smooth the starch is.
………………and here it is Starch. Made with less than half the time, and waaaaaaaaaay less effort. Nigerian cooking on easy street.
Any complaints? Again, look at the clean bottom of the pot
anyone who has made starch before would recognise the crackly, burnt bits at the sides of the pot. This basically proves that the hand mixer replicates the manual stirring process, but much faster because it whips the solution in faster circular repetitions.
……………..and the starch came off cleanly from the pot
the only trouble was with eating it. My friends have never had starch before, so it was quite a lesson showing them how to bend their arms, make a pocket between their thumb and index finger and pinch. They weren’t impressed. As this was made with modern cooking methods, they decided to get out a fork and knife. Aint nobody got time to be fighting with food. Only A, was impressed with Starch though. The rest, didn’t like the texture when chewed.
The real thing. If you saw this picture, not in a million years, would you have guessed it was not made by hand. I apologise for the messy plate. Loooool. My Urhobo people, wado o. Life is now so much easier. Making starch has been brought forward to the 21st century. Pounded Yam is ubiquitously Nigerian, Starch belongs to us Niger Deltans. It is my wish, that we will embrace this new method for all the ease that it brings.
In retrospect, we should have shot a video, but we wisened up the next day, when I tried out another new method to making something that almost always results in bruised knuckles. Quite a funny video, to launch Dooney’s Kitchen YouTube Channel