Ethnobotanical Leaflets 10: 219-227. 2006.
Preparations and Uses of Maize in
Abdulrahaman, A. A.1 and Kolawole, O. M.2
of Plant Biology,
Maize is a cereal plant that produces grains that can be cooked, roasted, fried, ground, pounded or crushed to prepare various food items like pap, ‘tuwo’, ‘gwate’, ‘donkunu’ and host of others. All these food types are readily available in various parts of Nigeria among different ethnic groups, notably among which are Yorubas, Hausas, Ibos, Ibiras, Ishas, Binis, Efiks, Yalas etc. Preparations and uses of the maize grains varied from group to group, though at time with some similarities. Apart from food, maize is also useful as medicines and as raw materials for industries. About 28 food items or dishes and 6 medicinal values of maize are discussed with aim of making available the divergent methods of preparations of maize from various ethnic groups.
(Zea mays L., Poaceae) is the most
important cereal in the world after wheat and rice with regard to cultivation
areas and total production (Purseglove, 1992; Osagie and Eka, 1998). The name
maize is derived from the South American Indian Arawak-Carib word mahiz. It is also known as Indian corn
or corn in
global production of maize is estimated to about 300 million tones per year.
145million (or about 50 per cent) are produced in
is prepared and consumed in a multitude of ways which vary from region to
region or from one ethnic group to the other. For instance, maize grains are
prepared by boiling or roasting as paste (‘eko’), ‘abado’, and ‘elekute’ in Nigeria and ‘kenke’ in Ghana, or as popcorn
which is eaten all over West Africa. Traditional methods of preparations uses
of maize are restricted to definite localities or ethnic groups. This trend
was also noted in the traditional preparation and uses of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz,
Euphorbiaceae) by Etejere and Bhat (1985). The current investigations on the
traditional preparations and uses of maize by various ethnic groups in
Three methods were used in collection and collation of data. These include oral interview of local people of different ethnic backgrounds, field trips to some areas where maize is used in making porridges or dishes, and consultation of relevant literatures.
Preparations and uses as food
Maize is an all-important crop which provides an avenue for making various types of foods. It also has some medicinal values and serves as raw-materials for many industries. Grain is the most important part of maize crop. It is put to many uses.
are two popular paps in
To prepare paps generally, the maize grains are soaked in cold water inside earthen pot or clay pot (‘koko’) for 2 to 3 days. Then the grains are washed with clean water severally and later ground to paste. Water is added and leave for days with change of water at interval. At this stage, amount desire may be taken, stirred and poured inside boiling water and stirred until a semi-liquid porridge (hot pap) is obtained. In some cases, little grains of guinea corn (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench, Poaceae) are mixed with grains of maize, or guinea corn alone or millet (Pennisetum americanum K. Schum, Poaceae) alone may be used to prepare hot-pap (Banigo and Muller, 1972) just as described above. New improved processing system of manufacturing or preparing ‘ogi’ was discussed by Banigo et al. (1974). ‘Ogi’ is synonymous to tea among the indigenous Nigerians. ‘Koko’ is another thin porridge similar to ‘ogi’ except that it contains tiny lumps of flour to add texture.
Preparation of cold-pap is differs a little. After the grinding of the grains, the ground paste is filtered using clean, white cloth to get very smooth paste. The residue of filtration (called ‘eri’ by Yoruba) is used to feed animals. It may also be sun-dried to make ‘pete’ by Yoruba. This is poured in boiling water preparatory to making of ‘amala’ (a food prepared with yam flour (Discorea spp. like D. rotundata Poir, D. cayenensis Lam, D. alata L., Discoreaceae). Meanwhile, remaining fine paste after filtration is allowed to settle down at the bottom of pot with water on top. The top water which is called ‘omi-eko’ or ‘omikan’ or ‘omidun’ is removed while the paste is poured in boiling water and stirred to get a semi-solid porridge. This is then put inside banana leaves (Musa spp. L., Musaceae), or ‘ewe-eko’ as called by the local people which are arranged inside a small clay pot (kolobo) to give a characteristic doomed shape. Alternatively, it may be put inside polythene paper (nylon) – a recent phenomenon. The hot is allowed to cool down and solidified, and thus become thick porridge (i.e. cold-pap). ‘Omadidi’, which is popular among Isha people, is similar to ‘eko’ or ‘eko’-tutu but more solid than the latter. There is a slight difference in its (‘omadidi’) preparation. The half-cooked watery porridge is poured inside nylons at desire amount and re-cooked inside a pot containing hot water, this make it more solidified than eko.
Major difference between hot-pap and cold-pap lies in the states they are taken or served. While ‘ogi’ and ‘koko’ are served hot, eko and ‘omadidi’ are served cold. Generally, paps may be taken alone or with sugar or with bean cakes i.e. ‘akara’ or ‘moin moin’ (made from Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp., Palpilionaceae) or with vegetable stew (e.g. Amaranthus cruentus L., Amaranthaceae) or with ground nut cake, ‘kulikuli’ (made from Arachis hypogaea L., Palpilionaceae). A bye product of pap called ‘eha’ or ‘eha-koko’ (this is burnt porridge at the bottom of the pot) is eaten by man and livestock.
‘ Tuwo’ (Yoruba), ‘tuwo-masara’ (Hausa),
‘oka’ (Egun), ‘inioka’ (Ibo), ‘uka apaapa’ (Ibira) is a very important and
popular stable food among various ethnic groups in
is an exotic food to
‘Maasa’ and ‘Wainna’
‘Maasa’ and ‘wainna’ are similar thick porridges. While ‘maasa’ is small in size, ‘wainna’ is big. ‘Maasa’ is eaten with sugar sprinkled on it, ‘wainna’ is eaten with pumpkin soup (Cucurbita pepo L., C. moschata [Duch.ex Lam.] Duch. ex Poir, Cucurbitaceae) or with vegetable soups or with honey. Both are made with coarsely, wet-ground grains. Small piles of this are put separately into a frying-pan containing hot groundnut oil (or palm oil- Elaeis guineesis Jacq., Arecaceae, as commonly used among Isha people) to ‘maasa’. ‘Wainna’ on the other hand is prepared by putting some quantities of ground paste inside saucer plates (made of clay soil). The saucer plates are lubricated with groundnut oil initially to enhance easy removal of ‘wainna’ after heating or cooking. ‘Wainna’ cakes can also be made with mixture of cassava flour (Manihot esculenta Crantz, Euphorbiaceae) and millet flour (Lancaster et al., 1982; Etejere and Bhat, 1985).
Grain testa is removed before the grains are ground into powdery flour which can be preserved inside bag, and stored in a dry place until time to use it. At intervals, a required quantity can be measured out and mixed with ingredients like sliced tomato, pepper and onion (Allium cepa, L. Alliaceae). All these are cooked together. After sufficient cooking, the mixture (i.e. ‘cous cous’) is solidified and ready for eating.
The Ibo mix cassava flour with maize flour together with onion chips, chilies, and palm oil, and moulded into small balls that are deep in red palm oil. The balls are called ‘akple’ (Etejere and Bhat, 1985).
This is cassava flour popular among the Ibira people. It is a combination (‘ejuka’) and maize (‘apaapa’) flours. ‘Ukejuka’ is prepared like ‘tuwo’ by pouring the flour inside boiling water and stirred until it becomes semi-solid porridge. It is eaten with vegetable stew.
‘Gwate’ is preparing like the ‘cous cous’. While the ‘cous cous’ is solid, ‘gwate’ is semi-solid porridge. Unlike the ‘cous cous’, ingredients like pieces of soft-bones, meat, amaranth (Amaranthus spp. L., Amaranthaceae) or bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina Del., Asteraceae) and ‘efirin’ (Ocimum spp. L., Lamiaceae) are mixed with the flour and cooked to make ‘gwate’.
Moistened flour is moulded into small round objects which are fried with vegetable oil. ‘Nakia’ is eaten with honey or sugar.
Grains are ground into dry, coarse particles that resemble ‘gari’
(a foodstuff prepare made from cassava tuber. The particles are mixed with oil and vegetable leaves e.g. Amaranthus spp.(like A. cruentus (L.) Sauer, Amaranthaceae) and cooked.
Fresh grains are washed with clean water to remove dirties. Onion and pepper are added to the grains and ground together with local grinding stone or with mortal and pestle or with grinding machine. Then palm oil and salt are added to it to turn red and to taste respectively. Desire quantities are measured out and put inside banana leaves or empty milk tins, and cooked with heat of hot water inside a covered pot to become solid porridge (‘abari’ ‘iroo’[Yoruba], ‘elili-oka’[Ibo], ‘ekefi’[Isha]. ‘Abari’ may be eaten alone or with paps-hot and cold.
Grains are cooked intensely until they become very soft and burst open (i.e. ‘egbo’). It may be eaten in this form or with cooked beans or cooked groundnut and/or coconut (Cocos nucifera L., Arecaceae) and with little groundnut oil. ‘Egbo’ is called ‘isoka’ by the Isha people. The former is not as hard as the latter.
This is a mixture of dried-ground groundnut and maize with or without addition of ‘kakandoro’ to prevent dysentery. The mixture is moulded into small ball shapes (i.e. ‘donkwa’ or ‘dodonkwa’). It is known by the Isha as ‘emumu’. The difference is that sugar and at time small pepper is added to the mixture of groundnut and maize flour to make ‘emumu’.
Locally, there are two types of popcorn- hard and soft. The former is simply called ‘guguru’ while the latter is ‘guguru alakuko’ by the Yorubas. Popcorn is made by putting maize grains inside a saucer-shaped earthen pot containing sand, and heated with firewood. The heat generated by the hot sand roasted and changed the colour of the whitish grains to brownish (i.e. ‘guguru’). Further heating bursted the grains to reflect the internal whitish parts, this called ‘guguru-alakuko’. The name is synonymous with the cock’s comb (the cock is called ‘akuko’ by the Yorubas). Sometimes, honey or sugar may be added to ‘guguru’ to become ‘guguru-oloyin’ (honey or any sweet object is called ‘oyin’ by the Yorubas). Popcorns may be eaten alone or with roasted groundnut.
Maize grains are ground with water to moistened paste which is moulded into rippons, and fried with groundnut oil. Fried ribbons are maize cakes (i.e. ‘ajepasi’).
Grains are roasted and then ground into powdery particles. This is mixed with palm oil which make it to be solidified, or to clump together.
‘Kokoro’ is also produced in a similar way like ‘aadun’ by roasting, kneading, spicing and frying. This method is described by Adegoke and Adebayo (1994).
Dried grains are roasted with hot-charcoal and ground into fine particles. Small amount of granulated sugar is added to it to become ‘elekute’.
Cooked or boiled maize
Whole freshly harvested maize fruit is cooked or boiled until the seeds are soft and eaten on the cob.
Whole freshly harvested maize fruit is roasted with hot-charcoal over a wire-gauze until the seeds become brown. It is eaten in this form on the cob.
A crop which is highly edible and nutritious as maize, also has some medicinal uses among the local people. It is used to cure many diseases, which it had over the years proved to be very effective. These include:
1. Water filtered through charcoal obtained from maize stalk can be used as a treatment to cure gonorrhea (AbdulRahaman, 1997).
2. An infusion obtained from stigma of maize inflorescence can be used for treatment of diseases of the urinary tract or passage (AbdulRahaman, 1997).
3. Water (i.e. ‘omi-eko’ or ‘omikan’ or ‘omidun’) obtained during the preparation of pap is used to soak bark or root of some plants (e.g. ‘dokita igbo’). This is used to treat fever and malaria. Water obtained from the cold-pap is more effective than that from the hot-pap.
4. Cold-pap or ‘eko-tutu’ is used more often in traditional medicines. It is mixed with some preparations (usually granulated, black particles) to cure some spiritual problems. It may be prescribed to provide protection against enemies, bad occurrences or to foster posterities.
5. Holes are created or made in some maize grains to make rosary. This is put on the hand (wrist) of a child to prevent him or her from becoming slim.
6. Whole dried maize fruit and dried yam with some charms are planted or buried together. This preparation is done to unite or bind couple together with effect that either of them cannot remarry to another person. It means that they will remain husband and wife forever.
Maize is a plant which grown on a
wide variety of soil ranging from fairly coarse sand to the Heaviest of clay
(Kochhar, 1986), and thus it is found in all parts of
Meanwhile, the findings contained in this paper are believed to be an eye-opener to those traditional preparation methods and uses of maize that are restricted to some localities which are not known to other groups of people.
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Osagie, A.U. and Eka, O.U. [Eds.] (1998). Nutritional Quality of Plant Foods.
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Amino acid composition of maize grown in
Source: Ekpenyoung et al. (1977)
Table 2. Mineral composition of maize grain in
Sources: Olaofe (1988); Osagie and Eka (1998)
Vitamin composition of maize grown in
Source: Oyenuga (1988)