Nigerians have some of the most delicious meals in the world. And Nigerian dads love that these meals are made with a perfect blend of flavors, veggies and tradition. A typical Nigerian dish is colorful and tasty with an inviting aroma. This article will give you insight into the unique nature of Nigerian meals and provide a list of meals almost any Nigerian Father would inhale.
What Makes Nigerian Dishes Special?
Nigeria is a culturally diverse country with over 200 different ethnic groups. Each tribe or ethnic group has some unique meals that define their taste and lifestyle. Every region has a favorite meal, which, in essence, is their trademark. For instance, Afang soup is a trademark of the Efik and Ibibio tribes of South-Southern Nigeria, while Ikokore is indigenous to the Ijebu People of South-Western Nigeria.
Different spices and condiments work together to give Nigerian meals their distinctive taste and aroma. They include garlic, cumin, thyme, rosemary, etc. Bouillon cubes such as Maggi and Knorr are also a regular ingredient. Vegetables like ukazi, bitter leaf, shoko (Spinach), uziza, efirin, ugwu (fluted pumpkin), etc, are also indispensable when making Nigerian meals.
Nigerians also love spicy food, so they don’t joke with their peppers! From ata rodo (Scotch Bonnet), to shombo (cayenne pepper) and tatashe (bell pepper), you cannot make a traditional Nigerian meal without adding enough pepper.
Other Kitchen Items You Need to Cook Nigerian Food
Nigerian meals are usually cooked in pots, skillets, and pans. It would be best if you also had mortars and pestles of varying sizes, kitchen knives, blenders and other utensils.
Traditional Nigerian meals are healthy. They are also highly nutritious, as their ingredients belong to all nutrient classes. As long as you add the ingredients moderately, these meals are ideal for people of all ages. Overdoing it would be unhealthy, as soups, stews, and sauces contain palm oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or rapeseed oil, which you shouldn’t consume excessively.
Nigerian cuisines contain many proteins like beef, chicken, goat meat, fish and seafood. Nigerians cook their meat until it becomes tender and soft. Unlike other nationals, Nigerians do not like raw or half-cooked meat. A typical Nigerian will always reject raw or half-cooked meat.
There are also Nigerian recipes for vegan and vegetarian diets. Here, mushrooms and tofu replace the regular proteins used in other Nigerian cuisines.
If you’re trying to impress a Nigerian Father or any Nigerian man, here’s a list of Nigerian meals they cannot resist.
What’s better to start this list if not with Jollof rice? Jollof rice is Nigeria’s most popular dish. To cook Nigerian jollof rice, steam already parboiled rice in a pot of well-fried sauce comprising bay leaves, curry, thyme, meat stock, Maggi, salt, vegetable oil, ginger, garlic, tomato, and pepper. Nigerians enjoy pairing this meal with a salad and fried or stewed meat. You have to try out the Nigerian jollof rice to confirm that it is better than other countries’ Jollof.
Swallows: Amala, Iyan, Eba/Garri, Fufu, Semo, Starch, Wheat
Swallows are the bedrock of all Nigerian soups. As the name implies, they’re swallowed and not chewed. Even so, there is no one rule to how you like to enjoy it, chew if you must.
“Swallow” is made using different flours, e.g., Amala from peeled yam flour and elubo from Plantain flour. Another variety is Iyan or pounded yam, which comes from pounding boiled yam in a mortar. Fufu and garri are also popular and made from cassava flour but through different processes. Last but not least is Semo which is made using semolina flour. “Swallow” is typically paired with a soup or stew, such as Okro soup or Egusi soup, etc.
You can say Puff-puff is sheer delight dancing on your tongue! You can have this with coffee, tea, soda, or cocoa. At times, it is a substitute for bread. So, if you’re looking for a simple breakfast, this is also an option. To make puff-puff, you need flour, yeast, sugar, eggs, and milk. You can also add vanilla, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Others would even add pepper into their Puff-puff batter for that kick. As in the case of bread, you leave it to proof for about an hour before frying.
Moi-Moi (Bean Cake)
To make Moi-Moi, wash off the beans’ back and blend them into a paste. Add an assortment of hot peppers and onions. Some people love adding blended crayfish and raw eggs to their batter to give it a different texture. Next, pour this paste into banana leaves and put it into a pot of already boiling water. You can also use small plastic or tin containers if you don’t have banana leaves. Some people add chunks of fish or boiled eggs to the paste before leaving it to cook. If you would rather skip the process of washing beans to peel off the back, you can buy bean flour and enjoy the same delicious taste.
Akara (Bean Balls)
Akara and Moi-Moi have a similar mode of preparation. Only that in the case of akara, the paste is thicker. Also, you don’t have to add fish, crayfish, or eggs to it, but you. This paste looks like a thick batter, which you scoop with a ladle spoon before adding it to a pot of vegetable oil. Next, deep fry it until the back is golden brown or almost reddish. You can enjoy your akara with pap, custard, or Agege bread. If you’re not a fan of pap or custard, you can also enjoy this popular dish with oatmeal.
Ewedu (Jute Leaves)
Made from ewedu leaves, you begin by blending the leaves in a blender. After that, pour into a pot, and add crayfish, iru (locust beans), bouillon cube(s), and salt. To save the nutrients, you can let it cook for about 5 minutes, at most. This slimy green soup goes along with stew and proteins. Famous with its partner amala, it is still suitable for any swallow. The traditional method involves using ijabe (ewedu broom) to whisk the ewedu into a smooth paste before cooking.
Ofe Owerri (Owerri Soup)
Due to the richness of this popular soup, a famous Igbo adage says, “a poor man does not eat ofe Owerri.” This is because this soup, native to Igbo people, overflows with proteins ranging from assorted fish to beef, goat meat, ponmo (cow skin), snails, periwinkles, etc.
Vegetables such as ugu and okazi are the ideal garnishings for this soup. Cocoyam paste gives the soup its desired thickness.
As uncomplicated as its name, Fisherman soup is a Nigerian delicacy indigenous to the riverine parts of Nigeria. As you’d imagine, it contains a variety of seafood. Uziza leaves, ground uziza, seafood, onions, palm oil, salt, and bouillon cubes are the primary ingredients for this soup.
Egusi Soup is a national treasure. It is the Jollof rice of Nigerian soups – you will find it on every menu. Nigerians cook this soup with ground melon seeds, palm oil, crayfish, onions, bouillon cubes, spices, and herbs. Most Igbo people cook it with bitter leaves or pumpkin leaves which they add only a few minutes before the soup is ready. They do this to ensure that the leaves remain fresh while eating. You can enjoy this delicious dish with pounded yam or any other swallow.
This unique delicacy from the Efik and Ibibio tribes of Nigeria also piques the interest of some parts of Cameroon, bordering Nigeria. Afang soup is rich in meats, pumpkin leaves, water leaves, and palm oil. Yes! Palm oil is a big deal in this soup, even though some recipes make it oil-less. If you are “team no palm oil,” this soup may not be for you. To make this, you will need beef, stock fish, crayfish, shaki (cow tripe), okazi leaf, water leaf, onions, seasoning, salt, and ground peppers.
Yam and Egg Sauce
Move away from bread and tea. Here comes another breakfast option. This incredible Nigerian food is a meal of boiled yam served with a sauce made with eggs, tomato paste, peppers, onions, and spices.
Waking up on Saturday in a Nigerian home means you might be waking up to a plate of beans. This meal usually goes with bread, yam, pap, rice, and plantain or garri soaked in water. Before you shop for this, know that there are different varieties of beans, and it takes a long time to cook.
Another spin on beans is the famous Ewa Agoyin, popular in the western part of Nigeria.
White Rice and Dodo
In Nigeria cooked rice goes with spicy sauce or stew containing any protein, with a side of salad or fried ripe plantains called dodo. The sweet and savory blend is divine! This meal is a must-try experience.
Goat Meat Pepper Soup
What’s a Nigerian food list without pepper soup? There are different kinds of pepper soup, but goat meat pepper soup is king. It serves as an appetizer and a sauce for boiled white rice and yam. It is easy to make yet very delicious, especially if you’re a lover of spicy hot food. Goat meat is well-cooked in a pot of spices and herbs and can be served to your father with a glass of palm wine.
Asaro (Yam Porridge)
They are also known as Yam porridge. This meal contains palm oil, tomato paste, peppers, Maggi, spices, and herbs. The vegetables are added towards the end to keep it looking and tasting fresh. This meal is a classic and goes with all kinds of proteins.
Boli Roasted Plantains
Boli is a name for plantains roasted on a wire gauze. Several vendors sell this Nigerian delicacy on the roadsides of Eastern Nigeria. To make this crunchy meal, grill plantains over a coal fireplace, and you’ll get that tasty goodness of boli. You can make it with an air fryer if you don’t have a grill. Boli combines with peanuts, grilled or dry fish, and a spicy sauce.
The slimy nature of the okra soul looks off-putting from afar, but don’t let it deter you from tasting this meal. It’s simply divine! To make, dice okra into fine cubes or grate them into a rough paste. Cook the okra with palm oil, spices, herbs, proteins, vegetables, and seasoning. This soup is thick and seems to “draw,” almost like an elastic with no breaking point. Enjoy with any swallow of your choice. For the most delicious experience, cook it with seafood, beef, and cow tripe are the proteins used in this soup.
Where you have Moi-moi in Western Nigeria, you have Okpo Oka in Eastern Nigeria. The preparation is the same, except that Okpo Oka is made with corn, not beans (as in the case of Moi-moi). This meal is spicy, flavorful and has a great aroma.
Honorable mentions: fried rice, ofada rice, salad, coconut rice, suya, efo riro, ofe onugbu, Agege bread and butter, chin-chin, Nigerian pancakes, nkwobi, and abacha.
These meals are a sure way to win over a typical Nigerian dad. They will also gain you the love of older colleagues, in-laws, and male friends.
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