If you’re about to make your way to Nigeria hoping to fill up your belly with foods that are full of spices and aroma, you’re absolutely right. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that’s what Nigerian food is all about. It’s a wonderfully rich cuisine, where the different traditional foods still exist in full effect today. And it is especially the numerous different hearty stews you’ll be wanting to spend your time in Nigeria eating!
Overall, a foodie visit to Nigeria, where each dish seems to be packed with protein and nutrients, should be incredible to your soul, stomach, and health. But, you don’t have to go all the way to Africa—we’ve included some recipes so you can even try them at home.
Nigerian Food Bucket List: Names of Dishes to Eat From the Cuisine of Nigeria
1. Abacha and Ugba
This is an easy-to-make traditional Nigerian food, created by the Igbo tribe, resident to Nigeria’s Eastern regions. It simply consists of abacha, which is dried and shredded cassava, and ugba, which are African oil bean seeds that have been fermented. It’s considered to be an African style salad and is popular to serve together with grilled fish, for example.
2. Afang Soup
Eaten particularly in Southern Nigeria, this is a traditional food of the Efik people as well as the Ibibio people. It is also eaten largely by the Anang people. It can be eaten as a simple home meal, but it is not uncommon to be served at ceremonies like weddings.
Its primary ingredients are various vegetables, but it also includes beef, crayfish, fish, pepper, and Shaki. Waterleaf, okazi leaf, and onions are also crucial for the dish, as are a variety of seasonings, namely periwinkle salt.
Recipe: Afang Soup by Yummy Medley
Agege is one type of Nigerian bread, from Lagos. It’s largely popular to eat and can be eaten with just about anything, as well as simply on its own. This white bread is known especially for its fluffy and chewy texture, but also for the preservatives or natural dough enhancers used to create that particular texture.
While this fried food dish has since spread all the way to the Caribbean islands and Brazil, its roots are in West Africa (especially amongst the Yoruba people), in many of which, including Nigeria, it’s still considered one of their national foods today. It’s made from black eye peas or cowpeas, which have been battered and deep fried.
5. Amala and Ewedu
This is another popular soup in Nigeria, one of the staple foods of the Yoruba people. Amala is typically made of yam flour, or cassava flour, or possibly with the two mixed together. Sometimes it might be made with plantain flour as well. Ewedu soup, on the other hand, is primarily made with Ewedu leaves.
While eaten among the different tribes in Nigeria (most noteably Yoruba speaking Ondo people), this yam porridge dish is perhaps most common among the Yoruba people. To make Asaro, puna yam is used. It’s first boiled to reach a tender texture, after which it’s cooked together with onions, peppers, tomatoes, palm oil, and seasonings like parsley.
Asun is made of goat meat that has been either peppered or spicy smoked. It’s traditionally cooked over open fire, then sautéed in hot pepper and other spices, making for a spicy delicacy. You can find it to be especially popular to eat at Nigerian pubs and other similar establishments.
8. Banga Soup
Made from palm nut fruit, various other ingredients also go into this delicious and hearty Nigerian dish. It’s typical to include both cow’s meat and seafood, especially catfish, in the soup, as well as various spices and seasonings.
It is eaten mostly by the Urhobo people, but is also popular in other parts of Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
9. Beef Stew
The Nigerian beef stew is one of the country’s staple stews. This easy-to-cook stew uses multiple parts of beef, such as tripe and liver, as its main ingredients, in addition to which tomatoes play a big part. You may also hear this beef stew sometimes be referred to as tomato stew.
Boli, a roasted plantain dish, is another Nigerian food that is native to the Yoruba people. It can be eaten as a snack, often with groundnuts. However, it can also be served as a main meal, in which case the dish will include a pepper sauce; in addition, there will be beef, fried chicken, or roasted fish served.
11. Chin Chin
This is a crunchy snack, made with a dough that mixes together butter, flour, milk, and sugar. If the baker so wishes, eggs and baking powder may be added into the batter. It’s also common to include nutmeg for additional flavor. Sometimes cowpeas may also be included. It’s usually cut into small bitesize pieces before frying.
Another one of the Nigerian dishes that were created by the Yoruba people, dodo is a popular plantain dish, made by frying ripe plantains which naturally caramelize during the frying process. Only some cayenne pepper and salt go into seasoning this treat which works great when offered as a side dish.
Eba is another staple among Nigerian cuisine, but the name is specifically used by the Yoruba people. It is made with garri and hot boiling water. Garri is a fried cassava, and baking it in hot boiling water creates it into a smooth and stiff dough. It can be eaten with many Nigerian dishes, especially soups like afang and egusi.
14. Edikang Ikong Soup
Made from fluted pumpkin leaves and water leaf, it is a nutritious Nigerian soup native to the Efik people and the Ibibio people. Just like many other Nigerian soups, it also consists of a lot of seafood meat. It’s eaten together with fufu mainly, but some other similar dishes may sometimes be offered alongside instead of fufu.
15. Efo Riro
This is another Nigerian soup type of food that features leafy vegetables as its main ingredients. It is native to the Yoruba people, and in addition to the leafy greens, it usually includes various meat cuts and seafood, as well as possibly some onions and locust peas. It’s also eaten together with fufu, or alternatively with eba; however, other swallow foods will also do.
16. Egusi Soup
This popular soup is made from seeds of melons, squash, and similar plants; in Nigeria, specifically, it is made using grounded melon seeds. Plenty of leafy vegetables also go into making the soup, as well as other vegetables – of course, without forgetting the meat and seafood! To get the best out of the soup, it should be eaten together with pounded yam.
Recipe: Best Egusi Soup by Lola Osinkolu
17. Ewa Agoyin
This is a street food that you can find especially from the vendors in Lagos. It’s hearty, full of flavor, and spicy. It uses chilis and hot red peppers, as well as onions to create the spicy taste. At its center are beans which have been boiled until tender enough to be mashed.
Made from fermented or fresh cassava, fufu is a staple across West African cuisines. This sticky dough is made from fermented cassava specifically in Nigeria, and it’s eaten together with the many stews and soups in Nigerian cuisine. It’s popular to eat all around Nigeria, although possibly most common in the Eastern region.
Recipe: Fufu by Lola Osinkolu
Gizdodo is a delicious dish that requires little effort to be created. It’s made with chicken gizzards and plantains in a peppery sauce. The gizzard parts are first boiled, then deep fried. They are then mixed together with plantains, before pouring a peppery tomato sauce over them. Plenty of onions and bell peppers go into completing the dish.
20. Jollof Rice
This is a one pot rice dish, where rice is cooked together with meat, onions, tomatoes, other vegetables, and spices. It depends on the region which specific ingredients will be used. In Nigeria, long grain parboiled rice is most often used, and in addition to tomatoes, tomato paste is also included. It is often served together with fried plantains, moi moi, salad, or other alternatives, as well as some meat.
21. Moin Moin/Moi Moi
This is a bean pudding native to the Yoruba people. Although it is a pudding, it is actually quite savory, its main ingredients besides black beans being onions and red peppers. It is a staple Nigerian food, and sometimes eggs, sardines, or even meat gets added into the pudding for additional flavor.
In this dish from the Igbo tribe, cow foot is cooked, and then mixed with a spicy palm oil paste. Unlike many other items on this list, nkwobi is more often enjoyed in a restaurant exclusively specializing in the dish, rather than being prepared at home. However, it is simple enough that one could cook it up in their home kitchen.
23. Ofada Stew
Also known as ayamase stew, and occasionally as designer stew, ofada stew originated from Western Nigeria. It’s made with bell peppers and bonnet peppers, as well as onion and fermented locust beans.
For meat, goat meat is often used, and some smoked dried fish and smoked dried shrimp are popular to add in, too. It’s then eaten together with ofada rice.
24. Ogbono Soup
Just like other Nigerian soups, ogbono soup is also rich with nutrients. It’s made from ogbono seeds, which are African mango seeds, traditional spices, some different cuts of meat, and palm oil.
It’s full of flavors, and is commonly eaten with dishes that are known largely as fufu dishes, such as pounded yam. It comes from south-eastern part of the country.
Recipe: Ogbono Soup by Lola Osinkolu
This vegetable is used in various different ways, depending on which part of the world you are in. In Nigerian cuisine, it is primarily used to create okra soup, which is enjoyed in other West African countries as well. The soup is quite similar to ogbono soup, differentiating in some ways such as the fact okra soup uses onions; it’s possible to sometimes make a mix of ogbono and okra soup.
26. Pepper Soup
Nigerian pepper soup is one of the local comfort foods. The broth of it mixes different African spices together to create a spicy taste to it. It’s possible to make with any kind of meat, in addition to which the ingredients include pepper soup spice, chili flakes, ginger powder, uziza leaves, crayfish, onion, and scotch bonnets.
Ponmo is a spicy treat eaten by the Yoruba people, featuring spicy succulent cow skin. It can be eaten as a snack or served as a side dish to a bigger meal. It can also be enjoyed as finger food during parties. It can also be called kanda or kpomo.
28. Pounded Yam/Iyan
Pounded yam is, as you may have guessed, a staple in the Nigerian kitchen, eaten together with many other dishes on this list. It is somewhat similar to mashed potatoes, but its consistency is far doughier. Like fufu, it is considered a swallow dish; as in, you cut out a piece of the pounded yam, press an indentation on it with your thumb, and then like a spoon you use it to scoop up some of the stew before swallowing the bite as a whole.
Recipe: Pounded Yam by Lola Osinkolu
29. Puff Puff
As the name suggests, puff puff is a doughnut-like traditional fried dough snack eaten in Nigeria. It can be made using either yeast or baking powder as one of its components, while flour, sugar, butter, salt, and water are required for the dough to turn out right. They’ll usually be rolled in sugar before serving, but other flavors are possible as well, such as nutmeg.
Suya is a Nigerian style meat skewer. It’s most commonly made with either beef or chicken, and can be even made from parts like tripe or liver. The pieces of meat are first marinated, and then barbecued on the skewer, the end result being tender and spicy. It’s served with spiced dried pepper and onion slices.
It is most popular in Lagos, but is said to have come from the Hausa people in the northern part of the country.
Recipe: Beef Suya by Taste of Home
31. Tuwo Shinkafa
Finally, tuwo shinkafa is a type of fufu. It is native to Northern Nigeria, and is made using soft rice to create the perfect sticky texture that is then easily mashed to make the final product. It is served specifically with Northern Nigerian soups, but really any Nigerian soup would do.
32. Oha Soup
Oha soup (also known as Ofe Ede or Ofe Oha) is a delicious traditional South Eastern Nigerian soup mainly prepared with cocoyam (ede), oha leaves, and an assortment of other ingredients like smoked fish, stockfish head (okporoko), meat, and many more.
Its thick, spicy soup and distinct aroma and flavor have made it a seasonal favorite, not just among the Igbo people but throughout Nigeria as well.
What is your favorite dish of Nigerian cuisine? Or are you yet to try any Nigerian food yet? Which of these dishes are you most excited to try? While Nigerian cuisine is yet to make as much of a dent worldwide as many other cuisines from around the world have, it hopefully will become a global phenomenon one day soon.
And even if you can’t jump on a plane to Nigeria right now, many of these dishes are thankfully simple enough that, with the help of the amazing Nigerian recipe bloggers you can find through Google, you can always try these meals at home!