Inspired by Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch
What Is Chittim?
Chittim is the currency of Leopard People. Chittim are always made of metal (copper, bronze, silver, and gold) and always shaped like curved rods. The most valuable are the large copper ones, which are about the size of an orange and thick as an adult’s thumb …
When chittim fall, they never do harm. So one can stand in a rain of chittim and never get hit. There is only one way to earn chittim: by gaining knowledge and wisdom.
The first book of Nnedi Okarafor’s ‘Akata Witch’ series is bursting with food. There’s fufu, egg stew, egusi soup, okra soup, jallof rice, spicy chicken, plaintain, butter cookies, mangoes and more. One of the book’s chapters is called ‘Red Stew and Rice’. One of the characters is called Sugar Cream. There’s even a full recipe for ‘Tainted Pepper Soup’ and a guide to cookery for a magical subset of people like the main character.
And it’s that ‘people like’ that makes the food in Akata Witch more than just a matter of what’s on your plate--it’s one of the ways identity is demarcated. Looking up any of the book’s dishes online (I would certainly recommend doing so) returns a multitude of national, ethnic and personal variations. Such differences and how characters negotiate between them are one of the book’s main themes.
Learning about this – and lots of amazing Nigerian food bloggers – hopefully earns a cheeky bit of 'chittim'. I’ve attempted a culinary alchemy of sorts by turning the currency of Akata Witch into butter cookies using two ingredients of Nigerian Suya spice; ginger and peanuts. The orange is there as a flavour echo from our introduction to chittim quoted at the start of this entry. Thanks go to Nnedi Okorofor for taking the time to clarify what they should look like.
Ingredients (makes approximately 20 'chittim')
Food processor, rolling pin, ruler, sharp knife, baking tray, parchment paper
Serve with tea the Sugar Cream way. Don’t be tempted to dunk your 'chittim' as butter cookies are shorter and more crumbly than stouter varieties of biscuit.