Sometimes, it’s the most straightforward recipe that provides the most enduring flavor. In Nigeria, tigernut milk, also known as kunnu aya, is a beloved concoction that, in its most basic form, is made from just two ingredients: tigernuts and water. This beverage is similar to the Spanish drink horchata de chufa, where chufa means tigernut.
The tigernut itself is not actually a nut. It’s a tuber of the Cyperus esculentus crop. Naming confusion aside, making tigernut milk is a lot like making other nut milks. Soak the tigernuts in water, blend, strain the liquid out, and keep doing this until you’ve squeezed out all the milk.
From that foundation, kunnu aya can be customized as desired. In fact, there are many different variations of kunnu aya in Nigeria: Some recipes call for dates, others for ginger and spices, and still others for natural sweeteners, like honey.
This resulting nutty drink, full of protein and high in fiber, is often served cold on its own. It has also been gaining popularity outside Nigeria as a nondairy milk alternative, similar to coconut or almond milk, that can be poured over cereal. But its uses go beyond the culinary, as some insist that the drink is also an aphrodisiac.