Nigeria is known for its diverse ethnicities, cultures, and cuisines. Each tribe, ethnicity, and even state, boast a broad range of delicacies that will leave any foodie extremely excited or possibly overwhelmed by the variety.
Regarding traditional Nigerian meals, the peculiar dishes, tastes, and methods of preparation vary for each region. Certain foods are peculiar to a particular tribe or ethnic group, and while some of these dishes remain popular in only those places, others have spread to become national delicacies.
Seeing as there are so many traditional Nigerian dishes, with each region boasting an array of excellent meals, it will be best to focus on the more prevalent traditional meals that are known all over the country.
1. Yam Porridge
This is a popular delicacy enjoyed all across the country. The porridge is made with yam and what brings the rich, flavor-filled taste is the use of a variety of ingredients in making this porridge. The ingredients used might vary slightly based on individual preferences, but typically, pepper, onions, seasoning, crayfish, palm oil, and vegetables are in the mix.
It’s delicious, easy to prepare, and a good recommendation for anyone looking for good traditional meals to try.
2. Plantain Porridge
Plantains are a significant part of Nigerian meals, and one of the unique ways of cooking is to make porridge out of them. This meal is simply delicious.
Depending on taste, one can use ripe or unripe plantains to prepare this porridge, and the difference in taste is the sweetness ripe plantains give to porridge. Different spices and vegetables are also used in preparing this; whether the sweet taste is present or not, it’s still an excellent meal.
3. Akara and Ogi
Akara is a trendy snack all across the country, and it can be served with different side dishes for the perfect breakfast. It is made from bean pudding and deep-fried to give its wonderfully rich taste.
Typically, akara is eaten with Ogi. Ogi is the local name for pap, fermented corn starch typically made from corn, sorghum, or millet. It is similar to custard, although with a slightly sour, starchy taste, and it is prepared as a meal to be eaten with akara, beans, or moi-moi. Akara and Ogi is a tasty meal and a favorite for many people.
4. Ofe Nsala
When it comes to a typical traditional Nigerian meal, you cannot leave soups out of the list. These local soups are eaten with different kinds of swallow. Ofe Nsala is one of such soup, and it’s also commonly called white soup.
It is called white soup because palm oil, a crucial ingredient in native soups, isn’t used to prepare this. It can be cooked with fish, chicken, or meat and is popularly served with pounded yam, but you can opt to use Fufu or Garri (Eba) as a swallow instead.
5. Egusi Soup
Egusi soup is a favorite in many Nigerian homes, and although it’s prepared differently in various regions, the key ingredient, ground Melon seeds, is necessary. The soup is filled with flavor and gives a rich, sumptuous taste that has helped its popularity across the country.
It is often served with swallows like pounded yam, fufu, or garri. Whatever the case may be, it’s a delicacy.
6. Edikang Ikong
This famous cuisine originated from the southern part of the country. It is a soup made from waterleaf and pumpkin leaves with an assortment of meat, fish, and occasionally cowskin called ponmo.
The soup contains green leafy vegetables, proteins, and other ingredients. The ingredients help to give it a full, rich flavor and taste. Like other soups, it is served with a swallow, which can be fufu or garri.
7. Okra Soup
There’s no limit to the number of traditional soups available in the country, and okra soup makes it to the list of popular, tasty soups. Just like the name implies, the soup is made from chopped okras and often boasts a variety of meats and fish common in native soups. It is also eaten with any swallow available, but fufu is preferable.
8. Banga Stew
This is another delicacy prepared by extracting the oil from Palm fruits to use as the base for the stew. Different fish, meat, spices, onions, and other ingredients are used to prepare this dish.
It can be served with rice, yam, or even swallowed with fufu/eba for a complete meal.
9. Bitterleaf Soup
This is yet another soup that’s popular in the southern parts of Nigeria. The bitter leaf used in preparing this soup is washed to remove some of the bitter taste before use. The minute traces of bitterness remaining is part of the soup’s flavor.
Another green leaf, called water leaf, is used alongside the bitter leaf, and fish, meat, periwinkles, and ponmo, all combined to produce a rich, protein-filled diet. Like other soups, it is eaten with any kind of swallow available.
10. Pepper Soup
It’s no news that many Nigerians love their meals spicy. Pepper soup is one of the most popular delicacies in the country and is undoubtedly an enjoyable dish to try out.
It is also effortless to prepare and can be made with any meat, such as goat meat, beef, chicken, or even fish. Ingredients such as pepper, onions, seasonings, and scent leaf make the soup very tasty. It is mainly served with white rice, although many take it alone during cold weather. For lovers of spicy food, pepper soup would be a favorite among these traditional dishes.
11. Tuwo Shinkafa
This is a type of swallow that’s native to northern Nigeria. It’s made from mashed rice or rice flour and served with various stews or soups. It’s a very popular delicacy and can be served with any native soup.
12. Ekpang Nkukwo
This is a native dish in two southern states, Calabar and Akwa Ibom. The meal is a porridge made from grated cocoyam/water yam wrapped in vegetable leaves, pumpkin leaves, or cocoyam leaves. Typically, dried fish, meat, and periwinkles are also used to bring out the taste, and other ingredients like palm oil, crayfish, and pepper are used in preparation.
Although the dish itself isn’t a complex one, the process of preparation can be a bit tedious. The outcome of eating a well-prepared dish is enough to overlook the stress of preparation, as it is a unique delicacy.
13. Afang Soup
Afang soup is one of the most famous soups in the country. It originates from the southern part of the country, where it is a staple meal in almost every home. Its delicious taste has made it a favorite among many people, even non-natives of Akwa Ibom and Calabar, where it originates from. Like bitter leaf soup, water leaf is also a key ingredient in preparing it.
Afang is also cooked with different kinds of meat, fish, and spices used in other native soups. Its unique taste makes it stand out among other soups. If there’s one soup you should try, it’s Afang soup. It is mainly eaten with garri or fufu as the swallow.
The Igbos in the eastern part of Nigeria are known for Abacha. It is made from specially grated cassava. The other various ingredients used to prepare this make it quite a delicacy. I prefer to eat Abacha as a snack, though.
15. Amala and Ewedu
This dish is native to the Yorubas. Ewedu soup has a unique taste, and although Amala is the preferred swallow, anyone can also eat it with other types of swallow. This meal is famous for its unique tastes and is definitely among the traditional Nigerian dishes to try.
Many more traditional dishes are not mentioned for all the cuisines mentioned here. Whatever the case, all of these mentioned are sure to leave you feeling satisfied and your taste buds fully sated.