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This Adorable Nigerian Cookie Gets Fried, Not Baked

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Though the heating method for this cookie is not the way those in the West have come to make cookies, it's the method that was and is still used in West Africa, since most people do not have ovens in their kitchen.

Photo by Linda Xiao

Chin Chin are found at any Nigerian celebration, or whenever guests are visiting, and they're served alongside soft drinks like Coca Cola, Pepsi, Fanta, Mirinda, or Malta. They're common in most West African countries and there are different variations, from really hard and crunchy (more common); to softer and doughier; to savory (from Ghana); to bright orange, sold by street hawkers at bus depots (my mum used to bring these back to us after her trips to Nigeria's south).

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The most traditional Chin Chin are super hard and crunchy, but I like mine a bit soft, which is why I include baking powder. Margarine is commonly used, but butter will also work. The popular evaporated milk used is a brand called Peak Milk, but any evaporated milk can be used.

They come in varying shapes, too: from long, slightly coiled strips to cubes to bows to trofie pasta-like twists. Growing up, my family always made Chin Chin during holiday time, and it was always a family affair, with all hands on deck: It took a long time to make the huge batches we'd gift to our neighbors (along with holiday meals my mum made) as we wished them "Barka Da Sallah," happy holidays or season's greetings.

Chin Chin always bring me back to a celebratory time: the long hours spent making them, but also the family gathered together, singing Christmas carols, and laughing and enjoying the holidays together. Chin Chin are always the sweet signature of great celebratory times!

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Chin Chin

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Serves 4 cups
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
  • 4 pinches salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 cups oil


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