One of my favourite Nigerian snacks growing up was Chin-chin and till today it is still a fave. I like to describe it to those who don’t know what it is as ‘Nigerian fried cookies’, this is honestly the best description. The base of any good chin-chin recipe is pretty much the same as that of a classic cookie: flour, sugar, butter, milk, and eggs. Some of which are optional depending on personal preferences or dietary requirements. Then there are the additional bits here and there for more personalisation such as with preferred flavours.
Another great Nigerian snack is this Cake Mix to Hot Buns.
Unlike most cookie doughs, chin-chin are rolled out, cut into shapes and fried. Yes… fried! That’s exactly what makes these Nigerian fried cookies different from other well-known cookies or biscuits. The rolling and cutting step of these cookies can easily be done by hand but growing up my mum used a ‘pasta machine’. I must say I never knew it as a pasta machine, but rather as the ‘chin-chin maker’. This is the first pasta machine I’ve bought. I now use it for both pasta and chin-chin making. However, the first thing I made was chin-chin. It’s my little way of celebrating my upbringing and heritage. which really puts a smile on my face.
Pasta Machine or Chin-chin maker?
Yes, the process of rolling out and cutting chin could easily be mistaken for pasta making. Many of my friends, both familiar and unfamiliar with chin-chin, made that mistake. well, until they saw the finished product and were amazed. Chin-chin just like pasta is beautiful and delicious. This is recipe replicates how my mum made it for us growing up. These were the exact shapes she would make after passing the pastry through a pasta machine. Which I knew as a chin-chin maker growing up. I don’t really have a name for them but I guess one somewhat looks like a butterfly. We can just call the other one the classic. They both have a nice crunch and are perfectly buttery and flaky inside.
Chin-Chin (Nigerian fried cookies) 2 ways
- 2 cups flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 100 g butter (at room temperature)
- ¼ cup milk (at room temperature)
- 1 Egg
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 L Sunflower oil
- Pour flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and baking powder into a bowl and mix together.
- Cut butter into small pieces and add to flour mixture. Also, break and add the egg.
- Start mixing with a fork until the wet egg and butter are coated in flour. Then contiinue mixing with your fingers until it's all incorporated.
- Create a hole in the middle, then add sugar and milk. Mix in with fingers scooping the sides into the middle. It should start forming into a dough.
- Sprinkle a little flour unto a clean flat surface. Transfer the dough to the floured surface and knead lightly for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth dough.
- Cut the dough into halves, then cut into small pieces and mould into balls. Set one half aside for the different shapes.
- Taking each ball at a time, start with a rolling pin and roll out into a thick sheet.
- Transfer the sheet unto the base roller of the pasta machine and roll starting from the thickest setting '0'.
- Repeat and change the roller distance to change the thickness of the pastry sheet. Chin-chin does not need to be rolled thin like pasta, so rolling just 3 times on 0,1 & 2 is enough.
For the classic shape:
- Now transfer the rolled pastry sheet to the cutting attachment. The medium cutting attachment is what you should be using, not the tiny spaghetti-like one.
- Roll until it comes out just touching the bottom surface, then stop rolling and cut at roughly 1 inch apart using scissors.
- Continue rolling and cutting until the first half of the dough you set aside is rolled and cut.
- Place all in a tray and sprinkle with a little flour. Set aside.
For the butterfly shape:
- Lay the flat sheet down, placing the longest side horizontally, then cut vertically into medium rectangles.
- Make a slice through the middle but not all the way to the edge. Then fold one edge into the sliced hole and pull it out. It should look like a butterfly. Repeat for the remaining pastry and set on a flat surface.
- Place a deep pot over medium heat. Pour in the soil until the pot is to the 2/3rd.
- Let the oil get hot for about 2 to 3 minutes. Throw in one small piece of the classic cut chin-chin to check if the oil is ready. If it floats back up with bubbles, then it's time to fry!
- Gently pour the half of the classic chin-chin into the hot oil, allow to fry for 3 minutes or until they are golden, then remove the chin-chin from hot oil with a perforated /frying spoon and place in a bowl or basket that has been covered with a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
- Repeat the previous step for the other half of the classic chin-chin. Then repeat the two steps above for the butterfly chin-chin but fry for 5 minutes instead of 3 minutes.
- Set aside to cool and for the paper towel to soak up any excess oil. You can serve and enjoy this delicious snack a few minutes after frying. You can also store in a jar for up to a week but do not refrigerate.