There are many fun, new things about being a Nigerian who lives “in the abroad”. Netflix, Sephora, Trader Joe’s, Free Wi-Fi, American football, Rihanna concerts, you name it… but the one factor that never gets old is how much you miss home food, Nigerian food. Right? No matter how much Nigerians disagree on different issues, the issue where there is unanimous agreement is that some meals must be spicy in order for them to even be edible. Nigerian meals are known to be very spicy. Therefore, a Nigerian who only recently migrated might have a hard time enjoying the staple meals popular in the country where they are. This is because, very few countries have meals that are similar to Nigerian meals in taste and appearance.
1. Jollof rice
Many fights have broken out because of the “phenomenon” that is Jollof rice. In fact, some Nigerians believe that your party is a sham if there is no Jollof rice. Some may even go so far as to say that, “Nigerian party that they did not share Jollof, is that one even a party?” This traditionally West African potluck dish mainly contains rice, tomatoes, pepper and a few other secret ingredients. Some families even have their own recipes but the best kind of Jollof rice is the one served at Yoruba parties. Just saying.
2. Nigerian cooked Noodles
Almost every Nigerian and their mother, brother, sister and best friend like their noodles a certain way. It is very rare to find a Nigerian cooking their noodles with only the ingredients in the pack. No no no! There must be either sardine, ugwu, (yes, ugwu) fresh peppers, suya or something extra spicy to kick up the flavour of the dish. Most of the noodles served in Asian restaurants are different from Nigerian style noodles in taste, look and consistency, so for a Nigerian living abroad, this can make you crave noodles even more.
3. Garri and sugar with ice cold water
This is one of the best things to come home to after a hot day, especially if it is Ijebu Garri. Garri is acceptedly, one of Nigeria’s greatest food inventions because it is a winner on almost all counts. It is cheap, easy to find (except if you are not in Nigeria) and takes little to no effort to prepare. Also, if you are feeling fancy, you can pair it with dried fish that has been fried (Panla), Suya or Kilishi.
This is one of those things in Nigeria that people always ask for when someone is coming from Abuja, Kano or the north generally. The hard texture and feel of the meat are complementary to so many other Nigerian dishes like Jollof rice, noodles, spaghetti and so on.
5. Kuli kuli
This is the younger sibling of Kilishi and Suya. It is fairly easy to find anywhere in Nigeria but the best and crispiest kuli kuli comes from the north. It is made from ground peanuts, dried peppers and a few other spices. It can also be paired with garri and sugar or Hollandia Yoghurt.
6. Amala and Ewedu
This is another meal that can make Nigerians say that a Nigerian party (especially if the host is Yoruba) is incomplete regardless of where in the world it is. It is made from grinding dried yam and potato barks to fine powder. This powder is mixed in hot water and stirred to achieve the right consistency. Although there is Amala flour sold in grocery stores abroad, the quality never comes close to the ones locally made in Nigeria. Ewedu is also made from a variety of vegetables and spices that cannot easily sourced outside Nigeria.
7. Ewa Agoyin
This dish is made from mashing already cooked olo oyin beans. It is one a staple breakfast choice for many Nigerians and it is usually paired with Agege bread and a soft drink of tea. The stew for this meal is very hard to replicate as it is a recipe that is known by the sellers and passed unto them by their mothers. Some of the ingredients used though are red palm oil, onions, Cameroon pepper and a few other dried peppers.
8. Yellow Eba and Oha soup
This delicacy is more common to South Eastern Nigerians and tastes absolutely delicious when the stock from cooked goat meat or hide is used in preparing the Oha soup. It is also delicious when sliced snails and periwinkle are sprinkled to give more variety and flavour to the meal.
9. Banga Soup
This soup is made from palm fruit oil that has been extracted at a very low temperature. It is best served with Fufu. It is most common to Igbo and Calabar households.
10. Roasted Corn
Corns come at a particular season in the year so even Nigerians in Nigeria crave it when it is out of season and cannot wait to eat it. There is something very satisfying about eating corn that has been roasted outside over a charcoal fire with equally roasted pear. It can also be eaten with Coconut.
This is made from beans that have been ground with tomatoes, pepper and some other spices. It can be eaten on its own or with pap, Jollof rice, Ijebu garri and some other staple Nigerian meals. Some people add eggs and chicken franks to their recipe while preparing it to be extra fancy and it gives the dish a whole new twist.
12. Akara and Pap
This is another meal variety of beans. It is best when it is cooked from Olo 1 beans as it gives the akara the perfect consistency. It can be easily found to buy and if the vendor prepares it well, it is one of the best meals to have for breakfast. It can be combined with pap as seen above and Agege bread.
13. Pounded Yam and Egusi Soup
Egusi soup is one of the most nutritious meals in Nigeria and it is a soup that can be eaten with a variety of staples. One of the best ways to have it is with Pounded Yam.
This is mostly served at parties and it is one f those extra things that can make a Nigerian decide to show up at your party. It is a goat meat kebab that has been roasted over a charcoal fire and then some! At some parties, it is served with small chops.
15. Edikaikong Soup
This meal is traditional to people from Calabar and Akwa Ibom in Nigeria. It is made from a variety of vegetables like ugwu(fluted pumpkin leaves), waterleaf, basil leaves. But edikan-ikong is incomplete without “protein additions” from cow and goat hide, periwinkle and sometimes snails.
16. Nigerian style Spaghetti
Nigerian style spaghetti does not mean that there is one common recipe that all Nigerians follow in cooking spaghetti. Some Nigerians prefer to cook their pasta with a lot of pepper, some prefer to use sardines, others, chicken franks, traditionally fried rice ingredients and if you are fancy, chicken slices.
17. Meat pie
One of the things that Mr Biggs will always be remembered for in Nigeria is their meat pie! They would make a lot of revenue if they ever decide to sell that recipe because it is one of the best meat pie recipes ever. Nigerian meat pie is made from Irish potatoes, minced meat, ginger, pepper and a few other ingredients.
18. Fried Plantain
This is a savoury dish that is sweet. It can be eaten on its own, with peppered sauce or ketchup. Most times, it is eaten as a side dish with Jollof rice, spaghetti or beans. Plantain is one of those things that you would hardly ever hear any Nigerian (or really, anyone that has had it before) say no to.
19. Semo and Ogbono Soup
This is one of the most underrated food combinations ever, but people that know, know. In order to enjoy this, the consistency of the Ogbono has to be a little waterier than Ogbono would normally be and the Semo has to be a little closer to the consistency of Fufu than to Eba. Semo is eaten as a staple in most Nigerian households.
20. Yam and Fried Eggs
Yam and Egg is the perfect Saturday breakfast food. The fried egg recipe best suited to this meal is the one made with tomatoes and fresh red peppers. This adds variety in taste and colour to the meal.
Abacha is mostly eaten as an appetiser and no, it is not after the late Nigerian Military Head of State, Sani Abacha. It is a meal that is particular to Igbo and Calabar households and it originated from South Eastern Nigeria. It is made from Cassava shavings and is spiced with Cameroon pepper, ponmo and palm oil.
Ugba is very similar to Abacha and it also originates from South Eastern Nigeria. It tastes best when it is spiced with Cameroon pepper, peppered snails and ponmo. It is made from Oil bean shavings. However, it is served as a main dish and is usually very hot and spicy. It is usually served with garden eggs as its side dish.
23. Pepper soup
This is also a party special that can either be served as an appetiser, main dish or after the main course. It is served and sold mostly at beer parlours. Most women also like to eat this after they just have children.
24. Fried rice
This is made with mostly greens like spring onion, carrots, green pepper, green peas and curry mix. It can also be paired with plantain and chicken.
25. Tuwo Shinkafa
Tuwo Shinkafa is a northern Nigerian delicacy that is made from rice flour. The best rice variety to use in making this flour is the soft kind. It has a pudding-like consistency and is usually eaten with soups like Miyan Kuka and Miyan Tausha.
Suya is one of the best food items that have come from the north. It is the Nigerian version of roasted steak. It is made from cow meat and is roasted kebab style. The spice used for seasoning suya is made from a variety of peppers and turmeric. It also contains secret ingredients that afford it its unique taste.
27. Ofada rice
This is one of the healthiest carbohydrate meals ever. Most people only make the stew and eat it with normal white rice because Ofada rice is more expensive, harder to find and more tasking to prepare. Also, most people do not like the taste or smell of the rice, so they would rather eat the stew with something else.
28. Roasted Yam and Pepper sauce with Ponmo
This one is usually sold by the same vendors who sell Boli and roasted corn. It is one of those meals that are best eaten inside your house because it is made with red palm oil and can, therefore, get messy. It also tends to be very spicy so it is advisable to have water at hand.
29. Chin chin
Although this one is not a meal, some people are willing to swap their full lunches for a plate’s worth of crispy tasty chin chin. This is perfect to serve as an appetiser at a dinner party and it goes best with fruit drinks or yoghurt.
30. Agege bread and fried eggs
No, it is not made only at Agege. Why it is called that is still unknown to many. This bread is favoured by many Nigerians because it is cheap, easy to find and satisfying. It comes as unsliced loaves and is usually paired with Ewa Agoyin, fried egg as listed above (maishayi style) or with a bottle of Coca-Cola, bricklayer style.
Other fun things to try include…
It’s always fun to try out new foods and drinks when traveling; Nigerians are known to be heavy drinkers, party-lovers which makes the locally made drinks very much appreciated. A good number of these Nigerian drinks are found to be refreshing as well as nutritious and also whether caused by the method of production or immoderate consumption comes burdened with adverse effects. You have not truly visited Nigeria if you fail to try out these Nigerian drinks!
Romantic weekends are not all about going for shopping at the Dubai Mall or taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Nigeria has a lot of captivating and romantic destinations that could have you on cloud 9. So if you’re looking forward to escaping from the topsy-turvy of the City, in search of a romantic weekend with a difference, and you are not really sure of how you and your spouse can live that dream, then sit back and relax because we’re about to go on a trip.