The Joy of Nigerian Food
As you plan to come to Nigeria, we hope you anticipate with joy the Nigerian cuisine that you will be introduced to as soon as you arrive. Enjoy reading about and watching this information about Nigerian food.
Nigeria recipes consists of different food items from hundreds of ethnic groups and culture within Nigeria. Most Nigerian recipes, irrespective of ethnic group, are usually spicy and well-flavored.
Jollof rice traditionally consists of rice, cooking oil, vegetables such as tomato, onion, red pepper, garlic, ginger and scotch bonnet (a chili pepper simply called pepper in Nigeria). To enhance the colour of the dish, tomato paste (purée) is added. As seasoning, various spices, salt, stock cubes (also called bouillon, which is a blend of flavour enhancers, salt, nutmeg and herbs), curry powder and dried thyme are used. To complement the dish, red and white meats (i.e. chicken, turkey, beef), and fish are often served with the dish.
Fried rice is typically mixed with an assortment of eggs, vegetables, meat, poultry or prawns. It is made in a similar way to Jollof rice, yet without the tomato paste.
Red stew is a thick tomato and pepper-based stew, generally served with either “foreign” or locally-grown white rice. It is often served with a side dish of beans or fried plantains.
Gwate is made with ground dry corn, rice or acha (fonio). It is generally combined with vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, onions, peppers, eggplant (garden eggs), as well as locust beans, groundnuts, biscuit bones (meat cartilage) , and minced meat. This dish is commonly eaten in Plateau, Nassarawa and the northern states.
- How to cook white rice and beans
- How to make red stew
- White Rice, fried plantains and Red Stew with beef
- How to fry plantains
- How to Make Gote Acha
Starchy Foods (Swallow)
The term “swallow” is widely used in Nigeria to describe starchy foods that are cooked to a dense paste and eaten with various soups. They are called “swallows” because of the method of eating. This involves using your fingers, take a morsel of paste, dipping it in soup and swallowing it. There are various types of swallow:
Tuwo masara is a corn flour dish eaten in northern Nigeria. The corn flour is made into a mould that has a sticky consistency like mashed potatoes. It is served with soup such as miyan Kuka (pictured below) or any typical Miya (the word ofor soup in Hausa language.)
Pounded Yam is similar to mashed potatoes. However, it is completely smooth with no yam chunks as one might find with potatoes. Pounded yam served with a variety of soups such as egusi or vegetable soup.
Amala is a local indigenous Nigerian food, native to the Yoruba ethnic group in the western states of the country. It is made out of yam and/or cassava flour, or unripe plantain flour. Yams are peeled, sliced, cleaned, dried and then blended into a flour, also called elubo. Yams are white in colour but turn brown when dried. This gives amala its brown colour. Amala is mainly consumed by indigenous people of the Southwestern part of Nigeria. It can be served with a variety of soups, but most commonly is served with Gbegiri, a bean soup, or with Ewedu soup.
Eba is a staple food like pounded yam and amala. It originated in Nigeria. It is made from dried grated cassava flour, commonly known as garri.
- How to make pounded yam with yam flour
- How to make pounded yam in a blender
- Traditional making of pounded yam
- How to make Amala
- How to make Eba
Soups, Sauces and Stews
Pepper soup is a light soup made from a mix of meat and fish with herbs and spices. This is one of the few soups in Nigerian cuisine that can be eaten alone and is not used as a sauce for a carbohydrate main dish such as fufu or pounded yam. It can also be made with nutmeg and chili peppers. It can be garnished with fish, beef, goat meat or chicken. Pepper soup is often an appetizer at official gatherings however, it is also consumed in the evening at pubs and social gatherings.
Miyan kuka, very common among the Hausa people, is made from powdered baobab leaves.
Miyan Busheshen Kubewa a very common soup in Northern Nigeria from dried okra.
Miyan taushe, a pumpkin stew made with spinach, meat (usually goat or mutton) and smoked fish. It is primarily served in the northern part of the country.
Miyan yakuwa this is similar to miyan taushe. It is served with tuwon shinkafa or tuwon masara. It is a famous Hausa soup.
Ewedu soup is popular amongst the Yoruba people of south-western Nigeria. It is jute leaves cooked by pureeing the leaves with a blender or special broom.
Edikang-ikong is a vegetable soup made from Ugwu (pumpkin) leaves and waterleaf that originated with the Annang, Ibibio and Efik people.
Gbegiri Soup is a bean-based stew from southwest Nigeria. On its own, it looks like baby food, yet it comes alive when you add Ewedu Soup and meat from your Beef & Chicken Stew. Gbegiri Soup (the yellow one in the image) may take a bit of getting used to since it is cooked with beans.
Egusi soup is thickened with ground melon seeds and contains leafy and other vegetables, seasonings, and meat. It is often eaten with dishes like amala, pounded yam, fufu, semovita and so forth.
is the most popular “draw” soup among Westerners. Draw soup is a term given to certain soups originating from the southeastern and southwestern parts of Nigeria. They are made from okra, ogbono or ewedu leaves. Ogbono soup has a mucilaginous (slimy) texture, similar to okra soup.
Akara is made from peeled mashed black-eyed peas seasoned with salt and chopped onions. It is molded into the shape of a large scone. Then it is deep-fried in palm or vegetable oil in a wok-like pan in front of the customers.
Moi moi or Moin-Moin is a steamed bean pudding made from a mixture of washed and peeled black-eyed peas, onions and fresh ground red peppers (usually a combination of bell peppers and chili or Scotch bonnet). It is a protein-rich food is a staple in Nigeria.
Meat Used in Nigerian Dishes
Suya, from northern Nigeria, is grilled meat coated with ground chili pepper, peanut powder, and other local spices. It is prepared barbecue-style on a stick. This is one of the most famous Nigerian delicacies and can be easily found all over the country. If you are in Jos, be sure to visit Malllam Garba at Hillcrest School for suya.
Tsire refers specifically to meat that has a generous coating of peanut/chili powder. The meat may or may not be on a skewer.
Kilishi is similar to Beef Jerky. It is made from meat that has been cut into very thin slices, which are then spread out to dry. A preparation of chili pepper, spices and local herbs is made into a paste, which is lightly brushed on both sides. This is then briefly grilled. When in Kano State, be sure to visit the old city section of Kano for kilishi.
Balangu refers to meat that has been grilled over wood/coal fire. No seasoning is applied which brings out the natural flavour of the meat, which may be goat, mutton or beef. Salt and spices can be added later according to taste. Most of these meaty delicacies are Hausa/Fulani.
Nkwobi is cooked cow legs smothered in a thick, spicy palm oil sauce. It is a classic dish originating from southeast Nigeria.
Spicy roast goat is a goat meat chopped into bite-sized pieces, with bold aromatic flavors from onions, habanero pepper, garlic and bell peppers. . It is native to the Yoruba speaking Ondo people in Western Nigeria. It is smokey, sizzling, and spicy! It is definitely not for the faint-hearted