Tigernut milk (called Kunnu Aya in Nigeria and Horchata de Chufa in Spain) is naturally sweet, creamy, and offers a luxurious, rich and nutty flavor. Unlike milks made from almonds or other nuts which are typically very high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, tigernut milk is, instead, rich in monounsaturated fat, as well as minerals and vitamins C and E. For this reason, as far as non-dairy milks go, I tend to prefer tigernut milk or coconut milk.
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Tigernut milk or kunnu aya can be made simply by soaking the tubers in water, blending and straining; however, the addition of spices like cardamom and cinnamon as well as sweetener is lovely. In Nigeria, kunnu aya is not flavored from time to time with sweet spices, but also with alligator pepper.
Why Tigernuts Are Good for You
Tigernuts are a rich source of nourishment, and remain a significant source of food for both the poor and the wealthy throughout northwest Africa. They're rich in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, as well as vitamins C and E. They're a good source of oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil, avocado and pork fat), and which is associated with increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Tigernuts, also a member of the nutsedge family, are also traditionally used in folk medicine along with ginger and mints to treat upset stomachs, digestive issues, and irritable bowels (read about it here).
Tigernuts are also a good source of prebiotics (that is food for the good beneficial bacteria in your gut!) like inulin and resistant starch.
FYI Tigernuts are Not Nuts
And, remember, tigernuts are not nuts. They are tiny tubers with a nut-like flavor and nut-like texture, so for those people who must avoid nuts, tigernut makes an excellent alternative in baking and cooking.
Kunnu Aya (Nigerian-style Tigernut Milk)
- Pour the tigernuts and cinnamon stick into a medium-sized mixing bowl, and cover them with warm water. Allow them to soak in the water at least 12 and up to 24 hours, or until softened.
- Transfer the tigernuts, soaking water, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and jaggery to a high-powered blender, and until they form a smooth paste, adding water as necessary to allow even blending.
- Allow the paste to sit in the fridge for an hour to rest, and then spoon it into a nut milk bag, press it through, and serve over ice.