Nigeria is one of the most ethnically-diverse countries on the face of the earth. With hundreds of tribes, thousands of dialects and tens of thousands of local delicacies, one can safely conclude that Nigeria is the most ethnically-diverse black nation in the world. Her rich cultural heritage draws tourists from all around the world, and her local foods are very popular in developed countries, even among locals.
Nigeria’s culture is very rich. No wonder, Nigerians are every popular all over the world. Wherever they are found, they always showcase the rich cultural heritage of their background.
A vital component of any culture is their peculiar delicacy. Nigeria has several tribes, and each of these tribes has a very peculiar dish that they lay claim to. Some tribes have many, others have just a few; either ways, every tribe can be identified by at least one special delicacy. Furthermore, some delicacies are so delicious that they have almost become the national delicacy. They are foods that, irrespective of one’s tribe, if one has not tasted them, he cannot lay claim to being a full-blooded Nigerian. These foods, which have come to be accepted and adopted across most of the tribes in Nigeria, are what we shall be discussing in this post. They are the top Nigeria delicacies.
They are many, and our choice of the foods represented here is relative. The top ten delicacies presented here are what we judge to be the most popular. They can be found almost anywhere in Nigeria, they can be easily prepared, and they can also be purchased outside the country by Nigerians in the diaspora, as well as their foreign friends.
Let us now consider, the top ten Nigerian delicacies.
#1: Pounded Yam and Egusi Soup
This is by far the most popular local Nigerian dish. It originated from the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria, though certain Benin people have laid claim to it as having originated from them. Pounded Yam and Egusi soup is prepared using boiled yam and ground melon seed. The yam is boiled under controlled conditions, and it is afterward pounded in a mortar using a pestle. It is pounded smoothly to remove lumps. The egusi soup is prepared by grinding the melon seeds, and boiling it with palm oil, vegetable, fish and/or meat stock, chicken or beef, seasoning and assorted fish. Many Nigerians outside the country often crave for this particular dish, which is why most times, when they return to the country, they first go for a taste of Pounded Yam and Egusi in their homes or at a local restaurant. These days, however, they do not necessarily need to come to Nigeria to have a taste of this delicacy, as many African restaurants in advanced countries have opened, and Nigerians living in those countries can actually go there and feast.
Pounded Yam and Egusi is our first on the list of the top Nigerian delicacies.
#2: Jollof Rice
Though it is not certain that Jollof Rice originates from Nigeria, it is also one of the most popular foods eaten in the country. There are various versions of Jollof Rice. There is the Ghanaian Jollof Rice, and there’s also the Liberian Jollof Rice. However, according to popular opinion, the Nigerian Jollof Rice far outshines both, and all others. Nigerian Jollof rice is prepared using rice as the major ingredient. Other ingredients that are added to the whole mix include: fresh tomatoes and pepper, tomato puree, onions, salt, seasoning, fish or chicken stock (according to one’s taste) sweet corn, green peas, and water. Depending on one’s exposure, a few more ingredients can be added, while some can be omitted from those listed above.
#3: Fried Rice
Just like Jollof Rice, Fried rice is one of the most popular dishes in Nigeria. Fried rice is prepared using rice as the major ingredient, while several other accessories are added to give it its unique colour and taste. Fried rice is actually greenish-coloured, and it also has a very distinctive taste. Other ingredients that are added into the whole fried rice mix include green peas, green beans, diced carrots, fish or chicken stock, curry powder, dried thyme, and a lot of other things that can be added based on individual preference. Along with jollof rice, fried rice is always served at special occasions like weddings, meetings, and etcetera.
#4: Beans and Bread
This is fondly called ‘BB’. Beans and bread is very popular amongst Nigerians because it is nutritious, very cheap and accessible, and because it is rich in energy content. Male folk tend to prefer beans and bread over other meals, compared to females – though in recent times, more females have begun to subscribe to the wonder meal.
#5: Kilishi Suya
This is very popular amongst the northerners. It is made from meat. The meat is processed and made into thin pieces. It is then saturated with pepper and spices.
This is one of the most popular foods in Nigeria, and it is arguably the simplest to prepare. All that is needed is Garri, which is made from processed cassava stems. Once the garri is obtained, one only has to mix it with hot water in a container, continuously stirring the mixture until a fine staple is obtained. The beautiful thing about Eba is that it can be eaten with a wide variety of foods. Eba can be combined with Egusi soup, or Ofe-nsala soup, or Vegetable soup, or Ogbono soup, or different other kinds of soups that we have in Nigeria. Eba can also be eaten hot or cold, depending on individual preference. Many people prefer cold eba, and often prepare it hot and leave it for long hours to get cold before they eat it.
#7: White Rice and Stew
This is also another very popular dish in Nigeria. It can be served with fish, chicken, beef or even boiled eggs. Many people eat white rice and stew because it is relatively inexpensive to prepare. The rice only has to be boiled with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vegetable oil until when soft, while the stew would have to be prepared according to individual preference. Once it is ready, it can be eaten like that, or coupled with fish or chicken, or any other accessory.
#8: Yam and Eggs
This is one of Nigeria’s most popular foods. It is said to have originated from Benue state, which happens to be the food basket of the nation. it is made by peeling, cutting and boiling them in water and with a pinch of salt. Once the yams are boiled, they can either be eaten with palm oil or vegetable oil, or with eggs, or with beans, or with vegetable soup – as some people prefer it. In this case, it is very popular with eggs. The eggs only have to be fried in oil then served alongside the yam. It is very rich in carbohydrate and protein.
This is also known as ‘Hausa-burger’. It is a simple combination of Bread and fried eggs. The eggs are fried ‘hausa style’ – that is, with raw pepper, onions and tomatoes; after which it is placed in the middle of the loaf of bread. The loaf of bread is then fried in oil to give it a golden brown colour, after which it is served with tea or ay soft drink. Many people eat meishai because it is very easy to prepare, it is cheap and affordable, and also because it is high in nutrients and energy. It can be purchased anywhere in Nigeria. Some people also have a second category of meishai, which is Noodles and Eggs. In some cases, the people who make the Bread and Eggs meishai also offer Noodles and Eggs meishai. For the latter, the noodles are boiled in water with the spices, while the eggs are fried and served on top or alongside the boiled noodles. People also like to take the noodles and eggs because it is rich in energy and nutrients, it takes little time to prepare, and it is also very affordable.
#10: Tuwo Shinkafa
His is the gem of Northern Nigeria. It is their most delicious food. It is made using soft rice and a very spicy sauce. the rice is actually boiled in excess water so that it becomes very soft and mushy. The process of preparing the soft rice into the tuwo is very delicate and wonderful. This is probably why most northerners always look forward to opportunities to eat it. It is commonly served as a ceremonial delicacy in weddings, naming ceremonies and all other ceremonies in the North. If you had a hausa guest and are in need of ideas to win his or her heart, preparing a meal of Tuwo Shinkafa is certainly a good way to get to them.
The list of top delicacies presented here is by no means exhaustive. Other very popular delicacies in Nigeria include: Nkwobi soup, Okro soup, Owo soup, Ogbono Soup, Amala and Gbegiri soup, Semovita and Vegetable soup, and lots more.
This lends credence to the fact that Nigeria has a very rich culture.