Food Trends: The Breakout Star – Nigerian Cuisine

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igerian food, with its rich and varied layers, is expected to be a breakout star in US food trends as chefs and diners who were previously unfamiliar with West African cooking start to understand it from a regional perspective. Much like the way a general interest in Italian cooking eventually led to an appreciation for the cuisine of Tuscany or Sicily. Let’s take a deeper look at this beautiful west African country. 

In addition, Nigeria is a country with a rich and diverse culinary heritage, and its food reflects the variety of its people, culture, and geography. In fact, the country is home to over 500 ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language, customs, and beliefs. From the bustling cities to the rural farms, the food in Nigeria is a true representation of the country’s way of life. Nigerian cuisine is renowned for its rich flavors and diversity, with dishes that bring families together for meals and special occasions. From the famous Jollof Rice to the classic Egusi Soup, Nigerian meals are a staple of the country’s culture and heritage.

Equally important, agriculture in Nigeria is one of the largest parts of their economy, and more than 35% of the country’s population is engaged in farming. As a result, many Nigerian dishes are made from locally sourced ingredients, such as cassava, yams, plantains, pineapple, maize, beans, and palm oil. These ingredients form the staple of the Nigerian diet and are used to prepare a variety of dishes, such as jollof rice, pounded yam and egusi soup, and fufu.

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igerian food, with its rich and varied layers, is expected to be a breakout star in US food trends as chefs and diners who were previously unfamiliar with West African cooking start to understand it from a regional perspective. Much like the way a general interest in Italian cooking eventually led to an appreciation for the cuisine of Tuscany or Sicily. Let’s take a deeper look at this beautiful west African country. 

In addition, Nigeria is a country with a rich and diverse culinary heritage, and its food reflects the variety of its people, culture, and geography. In fact, the country is home to over 500 ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language, customs, and beliefs. From the bustling cities to the rural farms, the food in Nigeria is a true representation of the country’s way of life. Nigerian cuisine is renowned for its rich flavors and diversity, with dishes that bring families together for meals and special occasions. From the famous Jollof Rice to the classic Egusi Soup, Nigerian meals are a staple of the country’s culture and heritage.

Equally important, agriculture in Nigeria is one of the largest parts of their economy, and more than 35% of the country’s population is engaged in farming. As a result, many Nigerian dishes are made from locally sourced ingredients, such as cassava, yams, plantains, pineapple, maize, beans, and palm oil. These ingredients form the staple of the Nigerian diet and are used to prepare a variety of dishes, such as jollof rice, pounded yam and egusi soup, and fufu.

More About Nigerian Cuisine 

However, with the fast-paced lifestyle of many Nigerians, the demand for convenient and ready-to-eat foods has increased. This has led to the development of the “farm to freezer” concept, where farm-fresh produce is frozen and packaged for easy storage and consumption. Because farmers can now sell their produce year-round, regardless of season, the concept not only benefits consumers but also helps reduce food waste. The farm-to-freezer concept has helped to bridge the gap between traditional farming methods and the demands of modern living. This provides a convenient and sustainable solution for both farmers and consumers. 

What’s more, like most cultures, food has always been a central part of Nigerian culture. It plays a significant role in bringing families together. From Sunday family dinners to celebrations and special occasions… Meals in Nigeria serve as an opportunity for family members to bond and share in each other’s lives. The food of Nigeria is strongly influenced by a variety of cultural groups, including the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo.  It is known for its bold and spicy flavors. But don’t be deterred by the heat; there are several dishes that you can prepare at a lower heat level and still enjoy.

Moreover, one of the most important traditional dishes in Nigeria is jollof rice, a savory one-pot dish made with rice, vegetables, and spices. Another popular dish is pounded yam and egusi soup, a hearty stew made with yam, a starchy root vegetable, and ground melon seeds. All of these ingredients add flavor and thickness to the soup. Fried plantains, often served as a side dish, are another staple in Nigeria.

Furthermore, Nigerian cuisine also features a variety of soups and stews, including the spicy pepper soup, made with goat meat and a blend of chili peppers, and egusi soup, which is thickened with melon seeds and flavored with vegetables and spices. Among those most commonly used are cardamom, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, fenugreek, mace, turmeric, red and black pepper, poppy and sesame seeds, saffron, tamarind, and nutmeg.

 As well, in Nigeria, food is often prepared and enjoyed in communal settings, such as at family gatherings or festivals, and it is considered an important part of social and cultural life. Meals are typically served on large platters and eaten with the hands, a cultural tradition deeply ingrained in the country’s heritage.

Lastly, another important aspect of Nigerian food culture is hospitality. In Nigeria, it is customary to offer guests a meal as a sign of respect and hospitality. This practice, known as “kolanut hospitality,” involves offering a kolanut, a type of nut, to guests as a symbol of friendship and good wishes.

It’s clear that food plays a crucial role in bringing Nigerian families together as well as the country. From the preparation of meals to the communal sharing of dishes, food is an integral part of the fabric of Nigerian society and an important part of the cultural heritage of the country. Whether it is Jollof Rice, pounded yam and egusi soup, or fried plantains, the meals that are enjoyed by Nigerian families serve as a testament to the importance of food in bringing people together.

We hope you will bring your own family and friends together to share in the “kolanut hospitality.” After all, the best memories are made around the kitchen table.

Jollof Rice ~  Recipe 

Jollof Rice: One of the most iconic Nigerian meals is Jollof Rice, a one-pot dish made with rice, vegetables, and spices. It is a staple at family gatherings, parties, and special events and is a dish that is enjoyed by people of all ages. It is also a dish that brings people together as families work together in the kitchen to prepare it.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Murray’s Farms chicken drumsticks and boneless & skinless thighs
  • 3 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 5 ounces each)
  • ½ medium habanero pepper or Scotch Bonnet pepper, stem removed 
  • ½ medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 small red bell peppers, roughly chopped (about 5 ounces each)
  • ½ cup carrots, sliced
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ tablespoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder

2½ cups jasmine rice

Directions

  1. In a blender, combine half the tomatoes, red peppers, ginger, and onions with all of the habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper.
  2. Place the chicken in a large pot, such as a Dutch oven.  Add in two tablespoons of the blended paste, half teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder and 1 ½ cups of water. Mix well and bring to a boil on high heat, then let it simmer on medium heat for about 14 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from its stock using a slotted spoon.
  4. Broil the chicken on high for 4-6 minutes, until golden. Set aside, cover, and keep warm.
  5. While the chicken is broiling, add the tomatoes to the pot and cook while stirring for about 5 minutes. Add in the dried thyme, cayenne pepper, curry powder, the remaining garlic, ginger, red peppers, and onion. Stir well and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the remaining blended mixture and cook on low for 5 minutes.
  6. Wash the rice 3–4 times and then add it to the pot. Stir well to combine and add in 1½ cups of water, the remaining one teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder, and the 2 bay leaves. Stir everything to combine.
  7. Cover with the lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes. Add a ¼ cup of water and gently stir. Continue cooking on low heat for another 10 minutes.
  8. Add carrots and green beans and let the veggies cook with the rice for 5 minutes until the water is fully absorbed.
  9. Stir well and make sure everything is well combined. Remove the bay leaves, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve with the chicken.