Experiencing Nigeria is not complete without a culinary experience of the diverse cultures in the country.
By Chef Zoey Blaq
Culture is said to be the totality of life of a certain people. Culture involves all aspect of life of a people and food is without a doubt, a major aspect of culture. In many cases, the culinary lifestyle of a people reveals a lot about them.
The culinary scene of Nigeria has experienced changes and dynamism over the years but one thing remains constant, you have only tasted Nigeria when you have tasted the cuisine of the different parts of the country.
Due to the heterogeneous nature of Nigeria, the cuisine in different parts of the country differs as it reflects the people of that region.
Experiencing Nigeria will therefore entail the culinary experience of different regions in the country.
With the recipes below, we are giving you an experience of Nigeria in a meal.
FISH PEPPER SOUP AND MASA OR AGIDI: Pepper soup is a popular Nigeria soup recipe, particularly craved for when the weather is cold. It can be cooked with beef, chicken or fish. Masa is Northern Nigerian food made with tuwon chinkafa (tuwon rice) and it is eaten with soup or sugar. And Agidi or Eko (depending on what part of the country) is made from corn flour and quite similar to Ogi (pap).
FISH PEPPER SOUP INGREDIENTS
Fresh Fish (eg catfish or croaker fish but any fresh fish of choice)
Pepper soup spice mix
A few scent leaves
2 big stock cubes
- Clean fish and cut into smaller sizes.
- Place the pieces of fish in a pot and pour water to just cover the fish, add the stock cubes and bring to the boil.
- Once it starts to boil add the crayfish, pepper soup spice mix bit by bit and taste as you do, onions, habanero pepper and continue cooking.
- Check seasoning and adjust the taste.
- Once the catfish is done, add chopped scent leaves. Leave to simmer for about 5 minutes and it’s ready!
SOAK FISH WITH SALT AND SEASONING CUBES AFTER WASHING BEFORE YOU COOK TO ALLOW FISH TO HAVE EXTRA FLAVOUR. RINSE OFF THE EXCESS SEASONING SO AS NOT TO OVER SEASON SOUP.
3 Cups of Tuwon rice or Jasmine rice
3 tablespoons of Pre-cooked Rice
2 teaspoons of Active dry Yeast
1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
4 tablespoons of sugar
1 cup of water
- Soak the Rice for at least 8 hours or better still leave overnight.
- Rinse the Rice and blend it together with the pre-cooked Rice until creamy (remember to add the water before blending).
- Mix Yeast, sugar and water and set aside.
- Add the Salt, Sugar and Yeast batter to the Rice batter and mix together.
- Cover up the mixture for about 6 – 8 hours (you can as well leave overnight). Note that rice mixture will swell, so use a large bowl.
- Add just a tiny bit of oil in your pan or skillet and fry.
- Fry both side till golden brown
Corn flour (1 cup) (not corn meal)
- Put corn flour into a bowl and dissolve with about 1/2 cup of water to prevent lumps.
- Add about 2 cups of water and stir.
- Put a saucepan on medium heat and pour in the mixture and stir continuously.
- Add a little water and keep stirring till its of a creamy consistency and then it starts to thicken up.
- After about 30 minutes, check if the mixture is cooked right by putting a little inside water. If it doesn’t dissolve then you are good to go.
- Transfer mixture into molds or banana leaves for the Advanced cooks.
- And allow to cool down
AGIDI JOLLOF IS A MORE FLAVOUR PACKED VERSION. ADD STEW AND PIECES OF BRISKET BONES TO THE MIXTURE
NKWOBI is an Eastern Nigerian delicacy that is basically cow leg soup and it is a good choice for starter.
8 Ehu/Ehuru seeds
1 tablespoon of Cameroon Pepper
2 tablespoons of ground crayfish
2 – 3 cooking spoons of Palm oil
Chopped boiled cow leg (about a kilo)
Potash/Native Salt (akaun)
- Crack the shell of the ehuru and extract the seeds and toast them on an open flame or heated pot then blend smoothly.
- Dissolve potash into a small quantity of water to form a solution.
- In a pot add palm oil and potash solution till you get your preferred thickness. Add seasoning cubes, salt, crayfish, Cameroon pepper and taste.
- Add boiled cow leg and some chop onions. Put pot on medium heat and stir! Allowing the boiled cow leg to soak up all the sauce.
- Serve hot and garnish with onion rings and chop utazi
DO NOT OVER SEASON THE COWLEG WHEN BOILING SO THAT IT DOESN’T BECOME TOO SALTY TO TASTE
IF YOU DONT LIKE THE TASTE OF UTAZI, USE SCENT LEAVES
SUYA is a meat skewer popular nationwide but prepared by the Hausa people of Northern Nigeria.
Suya Spice Mix
Sirloin steak or boneless chicken thighs
- Soak Skewers for 15 mins to prevent it from burning.
- If you are using oven or open grill start to preheat. Oven to 450F.
- Pat protein dry and cut the steak to thin strips, chicken to small chunks
Thread the steak/chicken onto the skewers. Making sure the skewer is fully covered with slices of meat.
- Rub the steak/chicken skewer with spice mixture; season with salt and seasoning cubes on both sides and allow to marinate for as long as you like.
- If you are using oven or open grill start to preheat. Oven to 450F. Line a roasting or baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add cookie sheet (if you have one) or if your oven has a grill, oil the surface (same with the open grill.
- Drizzle with oil and bake on for about 12-15 minute or till meat is cooked thoroughly. Serve warm
THE LAST 3-4MINUTES OF BAKING SWITCH FROM BAKING TO BROILER SETTING. TO CRISP UP THE MEAT ON THE OUTSIDE.
JOLLOF RICE is probably one of the most popular foods in Nigeria and the fame of the Nigerian jollof rice has even gone beyond our shores. Made with rice and other ingredients, you can never go wrong with having jollof rice in your menu.
Tatashe (red bell pepper)
Ata Rodo and Shombo (scotch bonnet and chilli)
Ginger and Garlic
- Blend the tomatoes, onions, tatashe and peppers to a smooth paste. Heat it in a pot to reduced water content.
- Parboil rice and wash away starch.
- Heat up sauce pan, add oil (enough oil to fry pepper/tomato blend) add onions, garlic, and ginger. Sauté till translucent.
- Add tomato paste and pepper/tomato blend.
- Add curry, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary and white pepper.
- Allow pepper base to fry till dry or till when oil rises to the top of the paste.
- In a clean pot, mix pepper base and parboiled rice till its properly mixed, add heated up beef stock just enough to cover the rice slightly. Cover with foil and put on medium to low heat.
- Check rice constantly to know when you need to add water incase the rice is still hard.
- Cook till soft and there’s no more liquid!
- Fluff the jollof rice and serve
IF YOU NEED TO ADD EXTRA SEASONING WHILE COOKING THE JOLLOF, MIX IT WITH A LITTLE WATER TO ALLOW THE SEASONING BLEND VERY WELL
FOR THAT SMOKEY FEEL, INCREASE THE HEAT TO THE HIGHEST DURING THE LAST 10MINUTES OF THE COOKING TIME AND DON’T OPEN THE POT.
POUNDED YAM AND AFANG SOUP is a meal that is popular around Nigeria. Although every part of Nigeria indeed enjoy pounded yam, Afang soup is indigenous to Southern Nigeria but afang soup has warmed its way into the heart of the average Nigerian.
Large Smoked Prawns
Waterleaf, Washed and Cut
Afang Leaf /Okazi , Blended
Salt to taste
Seasoning to taste
Ground cameroon Pepper
White Yam for pounded yam
- In a pot, add goat meat, kpomo, add salt, water and seasoning cube. Allow to cook. Add washed and deboned smoked fishes, smoked prawns, crayfish, stir and allow to cook some more till it is soft and the liquid has reduced almost completely.
- Chop and wash Waterleaf scrubbing it like you are hand washing clothes. Set in a sieve to drain.
- Wash Afangleaves and slice them. Next it would need to be pounded (with crayfish) or an easier method I use is place it in a blender, add some water and blend.
- Add washed Waterleaf and more crayfish.
- Cover and allow to cook some more for 5 minutes, you will notice the Waterleaf will release water.
- After 5 minutes, add blended Afang leaves and stir the pot. Add Palm Oil, cover and allow to cook for a minute. Check for seasoning
- Turn off heat shortly
- Boil the yam for pounded yam until soft
- Pound with a mortar and pestle until stretchy and smooth.
IF YOU LEAVE THE AFANG TO OVER COOK, THE COLOUR MAY NO LONGER BE APPETIZING.
ALSO NOTE IF YOUR INITIAL STOCK WAS NOT PROPERLY REDUCED, YOUR SOUP MAY END UP BEING TOO WATERY
FURA DA NONO is a drink originated from the Northern part of the country. It is made with fermented milk and millet. Having fura da nono for dessert is a lovely way to close the meal.
½ cup millet
½ teaspoon each clove, alligator pepper and ginger
4 cups Nono
Sugar – To taste
- Wash the millet and combine it with 1 cup of water, add in the spices and puree in a blender until very smooth (you can choose to briefly soak the millet in hot water for about 5 minutes to make blending easier).
- Pour pureed millet into a pot, place on low-medium heat and stir until a dough forms
- Add 1 tablespoon of water to the millet dough, reduce heat to minimum and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Scoop millet dough into a bowl and set aside to cool.
- Add in nono and gently mash millet dough. Add sugar to taste. Serve cold
TAPIOCA is a drink made with tapioca and milk, popular among the people in Western Nigeria. It is a wonderful dessert choice.
3 cups whole milk
½ cup tapioca
½ cup white sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Stir together the milk, tapioca, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 5 minutes longer.
- Whisk 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Stir the egg mixture back into the tapioca until well mixed.
- Bring the pudding to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer until the pudding becomes thick enough to evenly coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- It can be served hot or cold
The above cuisines will give you a taste of the warmth of the Northern Sahara, the feel of the gentle showers of the South and the amazing beaches of the West; all in a meal. Welcome to Nigeria, the Garden of Eden of Africa!
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read more articles.