I used to hate Wara and would not even go near it, because I did not have a full understanding of this food. Being married to someone who comes from a place where wara is a real substitute for meat, and is eaten so regularly, out of obligation, I have developed a keen interest in it...!
What is Wara
In Nigeria, Wara is traditionally made by adding a coagulant (extract from Sodom apple also called bomubomu in the Yoruba language) to fresh boiling cow's milk to curdle it. What results is coagulated milk protein (casein) and whey. This milk protein is then skimmed off from the whey and sold as wara. Further processing such as boiling and frying, can be applied to firm up the wara before it is cooked in stews and soups. Wara is also eaten and enjoyed fresh, as its made.
As sometimes wrongly portrayed, wara is not cheese. It is milk curds achieved by adding a coagulant to fresh milk. Cheese is achieved through a process of ageing pressed milk curd. Therefore wara does not and should not have any sour fermented taste. If so, then it is no longer fresh.
Taste of Wara
The taste is better experienced than described. Its similar to the taste and texture of boiled egg white. Some may find the taste of wara bland but with added salt and pepper and other seasonings, its taste is further enhanced. In particular, when added to soups/stews, the wara soaks up all the tastes and flavours.
Properties of fresh Wara
- The texture of fresh wara is jiggly and soft and quite delicate. It can break easily with little pressure
- Fresh wara will be sold in its whey which has a light yellow colour. If sold in a whitish grayish liquid, it is most certainly no longer fresh
- Fresh wara does not have a fermented sour taste to it like cheese, because wara is not a product of fermentation. It is made by boiling milk with some added coagulant to curdle the milk protein
- Wara is very high in protein and therefore really healthy and a good alternative to meat or fish.
Types of wara
There are two main types based on the starting ingredients:
- the one made from fresh cow's milk
- the one made from soyabean milk (also called tofu or soya wara)
Benefits of eating Wara
The main component of wara is the milk protein known as casein,which gives the product its white colour. This makes wara really high in beneficial protein (usually 10-12%) which varies by with the quality of milk and the amount of coagulant used.
It is an established fact that milk proteins contain amino acids essential for the correct functioning of the human body. Milk curds such as wara are also have quite high levels of methionine, an irreplaceable amino acid which, among other things, protects the liver against becoming fat.
Wara protein is easily digested and absorbed by the body and are a great source of RDA protein intake. They are also an excellent substitute for meat.
Ways to Cook/Eat Wara
- Wara can be eaten freshly made...(though I tend not to do this due to the uncertainty of how its made). I usually process it further by boiling or frying before eating.
- Wara can be deep fried, drained and cooled, then added to soups or stews
- Wara can also be grilled and added to salads.
- Grilled wara makes an excellent snack.