Fresh milk from cows contains protein that is useful for the preparation of various meals and snacks or added to beverages, cereals, cakes, or smoothies among others. At the local level, cattle farmers use it to prepare a type of cheese, known as wagashi, a popular West African delicacy.
Wagashi, also Woagachi or Wara is often, a welcome replacement for fish or meat in the diet of vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. It is enjoyed in Ghana’s neighbouring countries including Mali and Nigeria. It is predominant in cattle rearing communities in Ghana, especially, amongst cattle farmers and Fulanis. It is also called.
Wagashi is basically cheese that is either roasted or fried. Its preparation requires fresh milk, coagulants such as the Apple Sodom plant, rennet or white vinegar, salt (optional) and cooking oil.
Rennet is an extract obtained from the stomach of young nursing calves, processed and used as coagulant which helps solidify by-products of extracts in liquid form like that of the cow milk. The Apple Sodom plant is another coagulant which can be collected either by crushing the leaves or the stem, after which water and salt is added and left to react then strained; the extract then serves as the coagulant for making cheese. The last option is the white vinegar, if the above mentioned are not readily available.
Making Wagashi begins with the freshly obtained raw milk, which is pasteurized for 30 minutes and left to cool after which your preferred coagulant is added. While adding the coagulant to the milk, it should be placed on low heat for 10 minutes, which helps the milk form into a curd. When the curd separates from the whey, the curd is left to boil for an extra 20 minutes which will make the curd firm. A little amount of salt can be added if preferred, to act as a preservative.
After the curd is formed, it is put in a net cloth/muslin cloth/cheese cloth and squeezed to get more whey out of the curd. For better results, it can be left in the cloth to drain for 5 to 10 minutes. The curd is then removed and cut into small chunks and ready to fry or roasted till golden brown.
Wagashi is a good source of protein for people who may want to enjoy meat like everyone else does, but for reasons of health and can be a good replacement for protein with a chewy, meat-like feeling.
It can be added to salads, stews, soups, jollof rice, noodles and other foods. Because 95% of the ingredients used in making Wagashi is milk, its consumption provides us with some health benefits.
Firstly, it provides the body with calcium, which makes the bones stronger; it helps protect the heart from diseases like stroke; it reduces an individual’s risk of getting Type 2 diabetes and also reduces the risk of getting some cancers and regulates the blood pressure. Much as it has these health benefits, consuming too much of it equally has its downside.