Food of Nigeria – Handpicked must tries when you visit

Food of Nigeria – Handpicked must tries when you visit

Many African countries were unheard for sometime. People were reluctant to travel. But that is history. Now many African countries, including Nigeria, are featuring in the top 10 lists in world class travel magazines and websites. (check out our other article about food in Rwanda – another popular African destination).

So if you are heading towards Nigeria, don’t forget to read this beforehand and try these Nigerian food in local restaurants !

Staple Cuisine

Jollof Rice

Nigeria  world famous best dish Jollof rice

Jollof Rice or Jellof Rice is a West African classic rice dish that is almost considered the national dish in Nigeria. Made with onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, scotch bonnet pepper, spices and few other veggies and served with a meat like chicken, turkey, beef, or fish or shrimp. Nigerians make Jollof rice with long-grain rice and tastes best when still hot. This is the most popular party food in Nigeria. Equally famous in regular dinners and special occasions.

Tuwo Shinkafa

famous staple Tuwo Shinkafa

This is just rice made into balls. Rice is boiled until sticky and then mashed to form a dough. Finally formed into large balls and served hot. This is well accompanied by soups and stews.

I am pretty sure you won’t find mashed rice in other countries! So don’t forget to enjoy it while in Nigeria.

There are two more variants prepared from maize and sorghum called “Tuwo Masara” and “Tuwo Dawa”.


popular staple Fufu

This is also another ball shaped staple similar to Tuwo Shinkafa. This is made with fresh or fermented cassava, with a similar procedure of boiling and pounding and later made into balls before served. Cassava is peeled and cut into cubes before pounding. Traditionally pounding is done with a wooden mortar and pestle. Nigerians typically eat Fufu with various stews and soups like Egusi Soup.


famous staple Eba

Eba is a food made from dried and fried cassava flour, commonly known as “Garri” in Nigeria. “Garri” is put into hot water and stirred thoroughly until it becomes a smooth stiff dough. Then shaped into balls and eaten with soups or stews like Fufu or Tuwo Shinkafa. Eba can have quite a different range of colors from white to yellow. Common one has an off white hue and one mixed with palm oil during preparation has a yellow tint.

Soups/ Stews

Pepper Soup

must try food Pepper soup

This yummy soup is one of another highly popular traditional food in Nigeria. I would say, this soup has many variations. Hot pepper is the principal ingredient, and the rest is up to the cook. Usually made with hot pepper, onions, garlic, ginger, some ethnic spices and meat like goat, chicken, or fish.

Nigerians would enjoy this with a beer as well. One made with chicken and yam is believed to have health benefits. Many West African nations consume this Pepper soup with many local modifications.

Egusi Soup

nigeria must try national dish Egusi soup

Egusi refers to “Melon” in English. Ground melon seeds are the principal ingredient of Egusi soup. Other ingredients include meat, fish, vegetables, and spices. Dried melon seeds give Egusi soup a special nutty and a spicy taste.

Egusi soup with Fufu is a famous lunch among Nigerians and is often considered as one of Nigeria’s national dishes.

Efo Riro

Efo riro stew

Nigerians stir(“Riro”) spinach(“Efo”) and then this dish comes out! Efo Riro is a one pot stew made with spinach, habanero peppers, red bell peppers, locust beans, onions and tomatoes. Traditional version uses “Efo Shoko” (Lagos spinach) or “Efo Tete” (African spinach).

Any type of meat can be used like beef, lamb, goat, chicken, smoked catfish, tripe or a mix of many. Nigerians like it paired with rice or a swallow-food like Eba, Fufu, etc.

Salads / Side Dishes


traditional side dish - Dodo

Haha! A simple, yet tasty dish. This is just deep-fried plantains. Cut into cubes or any shape and deep-fried in palm oil or vegetable oil and served. Popular as a snack, a side dish for Jollof rice, white rice or eaten together with eggs or tomato sauce.

Moin Moin

nigeria traditional cake - Moin Moin

The name “Moin Moin” or “Moi Moi” translates to pudding cake. But not the sweet dessert type we are used to. Moi Moi is made with black-eyed peas, onions and pepper and packs a unique taste. But can be eaten as a snack, with bread or dodo or as a side dish to a major meal like Jollof rice.

The ingredients are pureed together to make a paste and then poured into a mold and steamed wrapped in banana leaves. Shape is up to the cook. Most common shape you can find in Nigeria is the pyramid or the cylindrical type.

When more ingredients are added, locals call them a soul (or a life). The most popular Moi Moi with souls is the “Moi Moi with seven souls”, which is made using boiled eggs, green peppers, carrots, butter, Titus fish, lobster and minced meat.

Street Food / Snacks

Puff Puff

nigeria lagos popular snack - Puff Puff

We travelers love street food in any country that let us emerge in a true culinary tourism adventure that will help us understand the locals and culture as well. So when you travel the streets of Lagos or any other city in Nigeria, Puff Puff is everywhere.

Nigerians make this ball-shaped doughnut by using flour, yeast, warm water, sugar, and salt. The dough is deep-friend until golden brown. You can eat this plain or can immerse in sweeteners for a more sugary taste.

Chin Chin

nigeria lagos popular street food - Chin chin

This is another simple snack that is made of flour, sugar, milk, nutmeg, and margarine. The dough is prepared and cut into small squares or stripes and then deep-fried in vegetable oil until crunchy.

Nigerians say they originally prepped Chin Chin for special occasions but now a Christmas party or a wedding does not go by without Chin Chin.

Now, foody travellers are specially lucky, as they can find Chin Chin on any roadside cart or vendor when you roam the streets of Lagos or any other city in Nigeria.


nigeria lagos popular food - Akara

Akara is a fritter that is made with black-eyed peas. Other ingredients are onions, salt and pepper. The mixed paste is deep-fried until the texture becomes crispy. This bean cake is popular in Nigeria as a breakfast meal. But is eaten throughout the day as a snack or as a light dinner with bread.

So, what is your take? Is it Street food? Snacks? Salads? Stews? or Staples? Comment your picks below. Also, if you have tried one of these food while in Nigeria, share your experience in the comments as well.

Don’t forget to visit Rwanda as well.

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