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For the cuisine of Niger, see Nigerien Cuisine

Nigeria - Cooking and Food Edit

Overview of Nigerian Cuisine HistoryEdit

The cuisine of Nigeria has its roots in the ancient times when food was much related to art, traditions and culture. The earliest Nigerians were the Nok people and along the course of time suffered Portuguese invasions as well as British ones. Nigerian slaves brought to America, influenced the cuisine in minor ways, one of them being the fufu, a stiff cornmeal or yam mush, directly related to cornmeal. On the other hand, foreign influences were not that great on the Nigerian cuisine, and can be seen as details and spices added to already settled exotic dishes. Some of the ingredients influenced by European countries are the peppers, peanuts and corn. Original recipes inherited for centuries in the Nigerian cuisine, are rather grain-based, and many dishes are made from starch. Porridges and ground millet, sorghum, teff, Barley and cassava flour are typically used in this cuisine. Today, in Nigeria there are estimated to be more than 250 ethnic groups that live together. There is no group that holds the absolute majority, but still four of them make up 60% of the population. These ethnic groups are: Hausa-Fulani in the north, Yoruba in the west and Igbo in the east. Chili food is very much appreciated, especially for seafood dishes, marinated in ginger, tomatoes and cayenne, and cooked in peanut oil. Other dishes combine fruit and vegetables, exotic game and ocean fish.

Cuisines of Nigeria Edit

Map of Nigeria

Map of Nigeria- Click to enlarge

The Nigerian cuisine is typically grain-based, and most dishes are made from starch. Mealie, the African name for corn, is used to make the soft typical cornmeal and batters and is used in regional cuisines as well. With over 250 ethnic groups, the traditional dishes may vary from region to region, and some elements, like Pork meat may not even be served in a Muslim family, while in others may be much appreciated. People of northern Nigeria favor meat kebabs, and enjoy grain meals as side dishes. Pork and Veal are often used for the kebabs, which may contain spicy hot sauces. In the south part of the country, fish stews, shrimp, crab and lobster are main ingredients in a basic meal. riceand vegetables are also served as side dishes. Peppery stews are commonly served and prepared at home. In these parts of the country, palm trees grow wild, and this abundance makes it great for Palm wine to be extracted and drank. The Yoruba people, in the central Nigeria, enjoy meat stews and mashed yams or mashed cassava. The West of the country prepares meals using cassava flour, and has specific dishes consisting of frozen fried snails, or dried shrimp.

Nigerian Food Glossary Edit

Finding the ingredients for an Nigerian Recipe is not so easy when you do not know the names of the ingredients. Take time to make a list of ingredients and the name they may be found under at the Local Markets.

Preparation Methods for Nigerian Cooking Edit

Some of the preparation methods in the Nigerian cuisine relate to salting the meats after sacrificing the animals. Because of lack of refrigerators in the past, the meat would have gone bad without being smoked and slated. This method is still used today for preserving fresh meats. Preparing a Nigerian meal also implies you to know specific condiments that are being used in the cooking process. Some of the special condiments used in this cuisine are the black-eyed-peas, ukazi leaves, beletientien (tastes like tarragon), bitterleaf (used in soups) chili Peppers, bananas, breadfruit (tastes like potatoes), Snails, cassava (used for making cassava grains and fufu). Oils of palm trees, corn oil and Groundnut oil are very much appreciated and used for frying plantains (a member of the banana family). Ox tail is an interesting element in the Nigerian cuisine, and preparing it means you have to cook it longer in an under-pressure cooker.

Special Equipment for Nigerian Cooking Edit

In the Nigerian cuisine, a lot of wooden dishes are used for serving meal, or even preparing dishes. Deep serving dishes are required for the traditional Nigerian soups and for the special fish stews. You need to consider cover lids and insulated food carriers to keep the temperature of the food constant, if you plan on serving the dishes at their optimized temperature. Ceramic dishes and plates with floral design are representative for the Nigerian cuisine, and there are also wooden spatulas that are frequently used in the cooking process. Big pots that can be placed over open fires are specific to this cuisine, since a lot of cooking is done outside, over open fire. When cooking deep-frying shrimp, a wok is very ideal for this preparation, since it requires less oil then a conventional deep fryer. A frying shovel or spatula is required when you use the wok for deep-frying, so make sure you have them available as well.

Nigerian Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

Everything related to food traditions in the Nigerian cuisine, is related to culture and history. Many recipes have been passed form one generation to another, and preparation methods resemble very much the ones used in the past. Preparing fufu is one of the special Nigerian traditions, and every family respects it. A new yam festival takes place each year in Nigeria, symbolizing the conclusion of a work cycle and the beginning of another. At this time abundance in food and dishes are available for not just the harvesters, but also for friends and well-wishers. The festival includes cultural dances and ceremonies, as well as eating rituals, meant to express the community's appreciation to the gods for making the harvest of their yams possible. The Egungun Festival is more of a religious mystical event, but still traditional meals like Jollof rice and fried plantains are served in big families. There is also a fishing festival, the Argungu fishing festival, held during February or March, for several days, and is a time to celebrate the fishing crops and blessings, by preparing special fried or stewed fish dishes.

People in Nigerian Food Edit

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In Nigeria, a bit apart from other countries, food is usually homemade, prepared by families for their members only. With frequent occasions, food is prepared outside over open fires and cooked in handmade recipients. However, Nigerian chefs have a great sense of flavor, and they know the secrets to a delicious recipe. The many recipes and even more methods of preparing special traditional Nigerian meals are basically due to the feeling that a chef adds to the cooking process. Combining available ingredients depends on the chef’s personal method, and can result in Nigerian dishes that will become even more original and delicious than the already spectacular ones. The Nigerian chefs take proud in their cooking skills and methods, and one of their many secrets lies in the variety of ways they mix special condiments like sorghum, teff, Barley, and cassava flour. History behind cooking methods and influences has been kept secret from the large majority of people from other cultures.

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