Beju is a Nigerian dessert dish made from cassava root, coconut, and sugar, which is combined and baked into a cookie. With its natural flavor being only subtly sweet, it is popular to add additional sweeteners such as vanilla, agave syrup, or honey. Beju is vegan and gluten-free.
Beju is prepared with few ingredients, so it is recommended to use the freshest versions of these ingredients in order to get a flavorful cookie. Many traditional Nigerian cooks and bakers will shred their own coconut and grate their own cassava root for their Beju. Depending on the time you have and your location, however, this might not be possible, so store-bought ingredients can be used.
In the case that you are up for the challenge and prepare your own ingredients, there are some tricks to streamline the process. For example, when peeling and shredding your coconut, try microwaving or freezing it beforehand. The meat will separate from its shell more easily.
Cassava root also takes a few steps and a bit of time to prepare. Raw cassava root contains toxic compounds that must be removed before eating. To make it safe for eating, you must leave the cassava root in water for 2-3 days before using it. This helps to extract the inedible chemicals as well as soften the tough root.
Origin & Cultural Significance
While Beju is attributed to Nigerian cuisine, food historians can not be sure of the cookie’s true origin. After all, cassava root is not originally from Africa – it was imported with European trade from Brazil in the 1600s.
A version of Beju called tapioquinhas is also popular in Brazil, made of the same ingredients in addition to fillings such as dulce de leche and jams. It is possible that the earliest concepts of this recipe were actually made in South America before being recreated in Africa.
- Coconut, fresh and grated - 2 coconuts/1 lb
- Cassava root - 1 lb
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Prepare your coconut. Separate the meat from the husk and, using a food grater, grate the coconut meat. If fresh coconut is not available, you can use store-bought dried shredded coconut.
- Prepare your cassava root. Using a hand grater or food processor, grate your cassava root. For a finer finish, the hand grater will be the better option.
- Preheat oven to 315 F.
- The cassava root will be holding water, so wrap it in a cheesecloth and squeeze out water and starches.
- In a large bowl, mix the ingredients together.
- Using your hands, form the dough into flat round discs, about ½ - ¾ inch thick. Place on an oiled or powdered baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the cookies over to ensure both sides are cooked.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 40 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 61Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 0g