- 1. Jollof Rice
What is it? Rice made with tomatoes, onions, scotch bonnets, and chili peppers. There are endless variations on this recipe, but those five ingredients are usual constants.
No list of Nigerian foods can be complete without a mention of Jollof rice. It’s a party dish brought out at celebrations, a signature regional dish, and the recipe with which many West African communities — and countries — like to stir up friendly rivalries. If I had to pick just one favorite from this entire list, this one would probably be it. ?
2. Pepper Soup
What is it? Light and spicy soup traditionally made with goat meat, but often with fish or other meat, as well as herbs and Nigerian spices.
Pepper soup is West Africa’s version of chicken soup (many Nigerian grocery stores even carry instant Peppersoup cubes!), and is known for its comforting, restorative, and universally delicious powers. While it has dozens of variations, no recipe is complete without its classic seasoning mix made up of spices like ataiko (Alligator pepper), uda, and gbafilo. You can buy a ready-made spice mix online, or you can make your own with non-Nigerian ingredients.
3. Efo Riro
What is it? A rich spinach stew usually made with spinach, scotch bonnets, and red bell peppers.
“Efo Riro,” which roughly translates to “stirred leafy vegetable,” can be made with your meat or fish of choice, and traditionally attains its layered flavor from iru (locust bean) and ground crayfish. This recipe, as with many West African recipes, calls for palm oil, a crop that is native to the region. If, for whatever reason, you’d like to use something else, you can try substituting with a different vegetable oil. The recipe will still come together, but the taste will be different.
4. Egusi Soup
What is it? A stew usually made with crayfish or other meat and thickened with ground melon seeds (egusi).
This soup gets its name from protein-rich egusi that lends the dish its velvety, creamy texture and rich flavor. Egusi is satisfying on its own, or with a side of fufu (like pounded yam), and comprises infinite layers of savory flavor that will greet your insides like a warm hug.
What is it? Fried bean cakes.
Usually served as a breakfast food or snack and made with black eyed peas, these fritters are crunchy, spicy, and perfect alone or with a dipping sauce.
What is it? Deep fried plantain slices.
You know how when you have overly ripe bananas, you make banana bread? Well, when you have overly ripe plantains, you make delicious dodo! Here’s a guide on how to choose the best, ripened plantains.
What is it? Grilled beef skewers seasoned with spicy peanut mix.
This popular Nigerian street food gets its iconic spicy taste from Suya spice, which is made with peanuts, cayenne pepper, salt, and several other seasonings. If you like the spice mix enough, you can even try making suya popcorn chicken.
8. Ofada Stew
What is it? A stew made with spicy scotch bonnets, smoked dried shrimp, and iru (also known as locust beans or dawa dawa).
This is one of those dishes whose very image inspires appetites from the pickiest of eaters. Be careful though: the dish is pretty spicy and tastes great when paired with tongue-cooling rice.