Nigeria is a beautiful country named after the “Niger River”, a River that functions for the country as blood for body. It is a “God Gifted” main transportation way, for the inhabitants of the country and neighboring lands. The river is also main source of water to cultivate crops, the heart of agriculture. Also, the influence of Niger River is deep and visible on Nigerian Cuisines’.
River Niger is the main source of excellent and fresh river fish, including carp, Nile, catfish and Perch. Although Nigerian cuisine takes contributions from all the variety of cultures and ethnic groups within the country but also, it maintains its uniqueness from other African food. There is a variety of tastes that are derived from different cultures and norms, that exist in perfect harmony with each other within the Nigerian society. For example, in the Muslim majority areas towards the north (religiously Pork is forbidden in Islam) there is a lot of different vegetarian dishes, rice, barbecues and kebabs. A common meal in the northern region of Nigeria includes brown rice, beans and sorghum. Whereas, in areas close to the river, fresh sea food makes the main ingredient.
The ethnic groups, Hausa and Yoruba make up around 21 percent of the population; the Igbo people are 18 percent; the Fulani around 11percent while Ibibio make up to about 5 percent of the population. Each of the tribes, groups and religion has a different “special dish” depending on their beliefs, customs and traditions. However, “tea culture” is common among most tribes.
The second main contributing factor in the variety of food in Nigeria is the season. Such as the foods available in “hungry season” (season before the rains, usually Mar/April) is different from what is available in “the season of surplus” (season following harvest generally October/November).
Sweet dishes in Nigeria are mainly fresh fruits or Fruit cocktails enjoyed year-round. As a large part of Nigeria lies in the tropics the country is richly blessed with many seasonal fruits such as mangoes, oranges, bananas, melons, grapefruits, limes and pineapples.
Gari, dumplings and yams are popular side dishes in the people from the eastern part of Nigeria (mostly Igbo/Ibo). Here, let me tell you that African yams are different than Western yams (pale, barely sweet) and make the most important part of Nigerian diet. Yams are usually eaten in place of potatoes.
The culture and people here are warm, welcoming and open hearted. Tourism in the country is also increasing since the onset of Nigerian based airline Arik Air that operates Direct and cheap Flights to Nigeria form London, UK and other parts of the world. Lagos is the capital city where as Abuja is also one of the most traveled cities in Nigeria, famous for year round events and festivals. It is indeed a great place to start your food expedition of “African Cuisines”.