The Five Most Popular
Foods in Nigeria
by Eke Chibueze
Spotlight on: Nigeria
Let’s take a culinary trip to Nigeria.
Here, our contributing writer, Eke Chibueze, has written a wonderful piece on the five most popular dishes in his country of Nigeria. Plus a bonus…. at the end: A recipe that sounds absolutely delicious.
Today, we take you on a culinary tour of one of the most populous nations in the world, Nigeria. With its diversities in weather, culture, vegetation and soil variation, as well as multi-ethnicity, Nigeria boasts of a variety of dishes, with varying favorites and ingredients, depending on the part of the country you visit.
The native foods are known for their spicy flavors and various leafy vegetables, enriched with assortments of meat and fish as desired. Although Nigeria has a multi-ethnical composition, there are some dishes and ingredients that cross ethnical borders. Western cultures have also shaped the preferences and preparation techniques of some Nigerian delicacies. While it is an impossible task to include all cuisines across ethnical divides, this post has selected the top dishes which most Nigerians will pick when given an assortment to choose from. These dishes are enjoyed across the 36 states, and amongst over 400 different tribes resident in Nigeria. These dishes include:
1. Nigerian Jollof Rice: One of the few things all Nigerians agree on, asides the National football team, is the Jollof Rice. Although the dish has some variations across West Africa, it is generally believed the Nigerian
|Jollof Rice with Chicken
version is the best, and you shouldn’t leave Nigeria without trying this dish. The dish comprises basically of rice, tomatoes, onions, pepper, and other spices depending on the recipe. It is often served at festivities and parties, and may be garnished with a lot of meat, fish, fried plantains, coleslaw, etc.
There is a lot of controversies over the best Jollof rice recipe in West Africa, with the Ghanaians contesting with their recipe too. But it is a well-known fact that the Nigerian Jollof has no rivals, even Mark Zuckerberg found out during his last visit to Nigeria.
2. Suya: Suya, believed to have originated from the Hausa tribe of Northern Nigeria, is a popular grilled appetizer. It can be made with a variety of meat, spiced with a groundnut powder extract called kuli-kuli, and a groundnut spice-rub known as tankora. (Peanuts are referred to as groundnuts in Africa). Suya is served with sliced onions, cabbage, and the tankora powder. In very local settings, suya can be enjoyed with Palm wine, an alcoholic beverage gotten from the
|Suya with Rice
sap of Palm trees. Roasted ground peanuts, pepper and salt, are the basic flavor ingredients for making Suya.
3. Nigerian Pepper Soup: Nigerian Pepper Soup is another delicacy you wouldn’t want to miss out on. It is a broth-like soup, very spicy as the name implies, and is made with either goat meat/ mutton, chicken or fish, mixed spices and of course, hot pepper. The Catfish pepper soup is one of the very popular variations across Nigeria, and most food spots offer “point and kill” services, where you actually pick out live fish which would then be killed and made into pepper soup for you. It is usually served as a side dish, but it can also be eaten as the main dish.
4. Pounded yam and Egusi Soup: This delicacy is the most popular Nigerian soup, as it’s prepared by every single tribe in Nigeria, though the methods of preparation may be slightly different across each tribe. Irrespective of how it is prepared though, the end result is still very similar. The soup is known as Miyan Gushi in the northern parts of the country, Ofe Egusi in the east, and Efo-elegusi in the western parts of the country. It can be prepared with a variety of leaves such as Ugu leaf “fluted pumpkin leaf”, Onugbu “Bitter leaf, Afang “Wild spinach”, depending on the part of the country, and the flavor the consumers prefer. No matter how it is prepared, the end result still remains the same good old tasty soup. In the north it’s known as Miyan Gushi, in the east it is known as Ofe egusi, in the west it is known as efo-elegusi. The soup is usually served with pounded yam. Pounded yam can be made by boiling raw yams and then pounding it into dough-like mass or mixing hot water with yam powder. Since the invention of pounding machines, the preparation of pounded yam has been made relatively easier. Nigerian-British actor, John Boyega was reported to have recently taken veteran actor, Harrison Ford to enjoy a plate of Pounded Yam and Egusi at a restaurant in Peckham, United Kingdom.
5. Moin Moin: If you are a vegan, then this dish might just be right for you. The dish can be
taken as a snack, side dish, or even a main dish. It is made out of peeled Nigerian brown beans, bell pepper, onions, palm oil and spices steamed in banana leaves. Sometimes, boiled eggs and or assorted condiments such as shredded, boiled meat or fish and small cubes of boiled liver are added to the mix before steaming the moin-moin. It can be enjoyed with pap or custard, or eaten alone.
The above foods are just a fraction of the many Nigerian delicacies enjoyed across the country. If you ever visit Nigeria, or happen to come across a Nigerian restaurant, don’t forget to try one of these. You will be glad you did.
Jollof Rice Recipe
• 10 Plum Tomatoes
• 5 Tatashey (Red bell pepper)
• 3 Green bell pepper
• 5 Red scotch bonnet pepper (Ata rodo)
•1 cooking spoon Tinned tomato puree
•1 liter Liquid Stock (Boiled meat water) i.e. Turkey stock, Beef Stock or Chicken stock
• 2 Red Onion
• 5 Cloves Garlic, minced – optional
• 4 Bay leaves ‘whole’
• 1 tbsp. Dry Thyme
• 1 tbsp. Curry powder
• 4 seasoning cubes
• 5 cups Rice
• Salt to taste
• Vegetable Oil for frying (I used Canola)
Preparation: If you are using beef/chicken/turkey, wash and place in a pot. Season with crushed seasoning cubes, salt, curry, thyme and ground/minced ginger, chopped onion and garlic. Boil till tender. Remove the meat from the stock and fry in a separate pan. Parboil the rice for 10 minutes and drain the water. This removes the excess starch and prevents the rice from sticking together while remaining firm. Wash the parboiled rice with cold water, drain and set aside. Remove the seeds from the red bell pepper and green bell pepper and wash well. Wash the tomatoes, Scotch bonnet pepper and onion well too. Blend everything to a smooth puree. Pour the blended puree into an empty iron pot and boil till there’s no water left leaving just the concentrated puree in the pot.
Add the tinned tomato paste into the boiled tomato and pepper puree. Pour the Oil used in frying the meat into the tomato and pepper puree and use it to fry the puree while stirring constantly so it doesn’t get burnt for about 5 mins.
Pour the beef stock into the fried puree and mix. Add the dry thyme, curry powder, seasoning cubes (Crushed), Salt to taste.
Gently add the parboiled rice into the puree and stock mixture and make sure the stock covers the rice, if it doesn’t simply add water to ensure it does. Add the Bay leaves to the pot and cover. Leave the Jollof to cook and soften and once you notice the liquid in the pot has almost dried up leaving concentrated tomato puree at the top, turn with a wooden spoon or spatula.
At this time, Check if the rice is soft enough and also check for salt and if the seasoning from the stock is enough, if not add the necessary ingredients. If it’s not soft enough, add some more water and leave to dry up once more till it’s completely soft. Once it completely dries up at the top, turn off the burner and open the pot slightly for the vapor to evaporate. Your rice is ready…Serve!