Nigerian food includes the collection of dishes and drinks from Nigeria, which are known for their spiciness and wide usage of ingredients like chili peppers, palm oil, groundnut oil and various herbs. Nigerian cuisine contains intense flavored soups and sauces, and many delicious non-vegetarian dishes. It is influenced by many local and foreign cuisines, like cuisines of India, Persia, Britain, Africa and Portugal.
History of Nigerian Food
Traditional Nigerian cuisine has major focus on native products of rice, millet and lentils. Explorers from Portugal were responsible for introduction of Cassava to Nigerian food. Other items like beans, maize, etc. were also introduced by various European traders and explorers, who also brought with them Asian spices like pepper and cinnamon to this region.
Ingredients Commonly Used in Nigerian Food
Commonly used ingredients in Nigerian food include cereals like rice and corn. Rice is used in many Nigerian dishes in whole or grounded form. Chili peppers, onions, tomatoes, beans, etc. are also common to many dishes. Fermented locust beans are called 'Iru' and are used as a condiment while preparing various dishes. Meats like chicken, beef, mutton, fish, etc. are another important ingredient. Groundnut oil or palm oil is used for cooking. Groundnut is also used in many other forms in various dishes in Nigerian cuisine. It is also used to prepare various soups and stews. Cassava is used in paste form for preparing desserts.
Popular Nigerian Dishes
Here are some of the popular dishes from Nigerian cuisine, among a host of many others.
- Jollof Rice: It is a spicy dish made of rice cooked with onions, tomatoes, red pepper, meat and vegetables. Level of spiciness may differ from one recipe to another.
- Moinmoin: It is a pudding made with black-eyed beans, onions and peppers.
· Suya: It is a kebab made of meat and coated with chili pepper and ground peanuts. It is very popular across Nigeria.
· Groundnut Stew: It is made of groundnuts, tomatoes, onions and meat and vegetables, the choice of which may vary from one recipe to another. Beef, chicken or fish and leafy vegetables are often used.
· Draw Soup: It is a soup made with okro or lemon seeds
· Mosa: It consists of grounded and fermented corn which is deep-fried and coated with sugar.
· Eba: It is a dish made of cassava paste rolled into balls.
Chin chin is a sweet cookie that is made with flour and eggs.
Ogogoro: It is an alcoholic beverage prepared by distillation of juice of Raffia Palm trees.
Health Benefits of Nigerian Foods
Nigerian food is rich in protein and phosphorus, as it consists of various meat dishes. Different types of spices used also contain various medicinal properties. Red chilies, a principal ingredient in most Nigerian dishes, are known to fight inflammation, and are also helpful in conditions of arthritis, diabetic neuropathy and psoriasis. Excessive use of spices in Nigerian food, may, however, not be good for people with weak digestion.