Top 18 Best Nigerian Foods: Most Popular Dishes

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Suppose you’ve been longing to have a meal at a Nigerian restaurant and would like to know about the best Nigerian foods to choose from, health benefits, taste, and more.

In that case, you need a food guide that outlines all these details to enable you to enjoy not just mouth-watering meals but also highly nutritious delicacies.

best nigerian food

Nigerian foods are indeed tasty and made from different varieties of ingredients. This means while some are high in calories, some often have a low-calorie count.

This guide outlines the top 18 Nigerian delicacies as well as their nutritional content to enable you to make the right choice.

Top 18 Traditional Nigerian Food You Should Look Out For

The list of traditional Nigerian food is quite long, and this list isn’t exhaustive. Still, we managed to include the popular ones you’re likely to come across in a typical Nigerian restaurant.

1. Beans & Dodo (Beans & Fried Plantain)

Beans & Dodo (Beans & Fried Plantain)
Credit: @ourfoodie_ng

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 166.888 kcal
  • Fat: 5.492 g
  • Carb: 22.38 g
  • Protein: 6.735 g

The taste of beans and dodo is heavenly, sweet, and delicious when cooked well. Beans and dodo, also known as beans and fried plantain, is one of Nigeria’s most common foods. It’s mostly common with the Yoruba of Southwestern Nigerians and West African states like Ghana, Cotonou, Togo, and others.

The beans is best enjoyed when cooked with ingredients like onion, garlic, pepper, crayfish, salt, and red oil. Unlike plantain chips, which are made with unripe plantain, dodo is made with ripe plantain and can be fried with palm oil or vegetable oil, depending on your choice.

Some years back, beans and dodo wasn’t served during occasions in Nigeria as Nigerians mostly eat carbohydrates at ceremonies. However, the delicacy is fast becoming a popular food choice in wedding ceremonies and other events.

2. Asaro (Yam Porridge)

Asaro (Yam Porridge)
Credit: @ololadeskitchen

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 304.03 kcal
  • Fat: 7.5 g
  • Carb: 53.2 g
  • Protein: 9 g

Asaro or yam porridge is another delicious Nigerian food that could appear red, yellow, or orange, depending on the ingredients used during the cooking process. Although the food is native to the Yoruba tribe in Western Nigeria, it’s popular and eaten throughout Nigeria.

Asaro is relatively easy to prepare, and the whole process can be done in under 45 minutes. The delicacy is made from peeled and cooked yam. Once the yam has been cooked to soften, ingredients like pepper, salt, red palm oil, green vegetable, onion, seasoning powder, dried fish, and spinach are added to it while still on fire. Afterward, it’s stirred until the yam is mashed together.

3. Moin Moin

Moin Moin
Credit: @foodblogafrica

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 6.47 g
  • Fat: 2.17 g
  • Carb: 15.74 g
  • Protein: 2.174 g

Moin Moin or moimoi is another soft and sweet Nigerian food recipe that can appear red, orange, or yellow, depending on the ingredients used while cooking. This food is native to Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Togo.

The process of cooking moin moin involves washing, peeling, and grinding beans, after which ingredients are introduced. Ingredients for cooking moin moin are fresh grated red pepper, onion, vegetable oil/red oil, and salt.

In Yoruba land, ingredients like egg, beef, crayfish, and ponmo are added to the moin moin mix before it’s packed and cooked. Moin moin could be packed in a plastic, leaf, or nylon suitcase and then put in a cooking pot.

Moin moin isn’t usually eaten alone; it’s often taken with ogi, koko, garri, or custard. At Nigerian parties, moin moin is usually served as a side dish on food like jollof rice or porridge.

4. Eba (Cassava meal)

Eba (Cassava meal)
Credit: @ibilefoodsandlounge

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 357.7 kcal
  • Fat: 26 g
  • Carb: 6 g
  • Protein:0.37 g

Eba or cassava meal is a starchy and solid food in Nigeria, which is common in West African states like South Ghana, Benin, and Togo. The name ‘eba’ is native to the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria; it’s called ‘pinon’ in the aforementioned West African states.

Eba is made from garri — dried grated cassava flour. The food is of two types: one appears in rough white color, and the other has a red color.

The rough white type is prepared with plain grated cassava flour, while the red variant is prepared with grated cassava flour mixed with palm oil during processing. The red eba is common among the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria.

Eba is best enjoyed with okra soup (ila), gbẹ̀gìrì, ewédú, vegetable soup, and other African soups with meat, fish, and ponmo.

5. Obe Ila Alasepo (Mixed Okra Soup)

Obe Ila Alasepo (Mixed Okra Soup)
Credit: @9jafoodpot

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 92.4 kcal
  • Fat: 3.2 g
  • Carbs: 6.0 g
  • Protein: 10.9 g

Ila Alasepo, or mixed okra soup, is native to the Yoruba tribe in Western Nigeria. ‘Ila’ means ‘okra,’ while ‘asepo’ means ‘to be mixed’ — this implies ila alasepo is a soup mixed with pepper and other ingredients, contrary to cooking separately and served with stew.

When cooked well, the soup draws a lot, which is one of the reasons some typical Nigerians like it. Ila Alasepo is mostly cooked with pepper, Maggi seasoning, salt, red oil, blended crayfish, potash, and fish or meat. It’s served with staple foods like amala, eba, fufu, semolina, pounded yam, and other Nigerian foods.

Although Ila alasepo is a vegetable meal rich in fiber, the number of ingredients—meat, fish, and others—determine its total nutritional benefits.

6. Egusi (Melon Seed Soup)

Egusi (Melon Seed Soup)
Credit: @dpotterscatering

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 126.4 kcal
  • Fat: 8.5 g
  • Carb: 2.8 g
  • Protein: 10.0 g

Egusi, or melon seed soup, is one of the popular soups that Nigerian and other West African states widely eat. The name ‘egusi’ is a Yoruba word for melon. The seed is dried after extracting it from the melon. When dried, it’s peeled and then ground to make egusi soup.

Egusi is sometimes mixed with bitter leaf, ugwu leaf, and other vegetables. The soup is prepared with ingredients like fresh pepper, red oil, salt, onion, Maggi, fish, meat, ponmo, crayfish, among others, as desired by the owner.

In Yoruba land, egusi is mostly served with pounded yam and bushmeat, but you may enjoy it with other staple foods like amala, fufu, eba, and others. The soup is also one of the favorite Nigerian soups served during ceremonies and parties.

7. Efo Riro (Spinach Soup)

Efo Riro (Spinach Soup)
Credit: @ourfoodie_ng

Nutritional fact per 240 g serving:

  • Calories: 74 kcal
  • Fat: 2.4 g
  • Carb: 7.1 g
  • Protein: 7.2 g

Efo riro (or spinach soup) is a vegetable meal native to the Yoruba ethnic group of Western Nigeria and is prepared with ṣọ́kọ́ yòkòtò (Celosia argentea leaf), or ẹ̀fọ́ tẹ̀tẹ̀ (Amaranthus hybridus leaf). You may prepare both in the same way.

The first step in preparing efo riro is to boil the leaves. Afterward, you fry the red oil and introduce pepper and other ingredients; the vegetable is often added towards the end of the cooking process. The taste of efo riro after the preparation depends on how well it’s cooked and how good the ingredients are.

Efo riro’s main ingredients are fresh ground pepper, palm oil, onion, salt, seasoning, fish, meat, ponmo, stockfish, crayfish, and others.

The soup is served chiefly with amala or pounded yam in Yoruba land, but you may also couple it with other staple foods. Some folks even serve it with rice, while some enjoy it alone.

8. Akara (Fried Beans Cake)

Akara (Fried Beans Cake)
Credit: @kikifoodies

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 109 kcal
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Carb: 13 g
  • Protein: 2 g

Akara is a Nigerian food made from beans or fried bean cake. The delicacy is native to the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria but is widely eaten by Benin, Togo, and other parts of Nigeria.

According to Yoruba customs, In the olden days, akara was prepared to celebrate life when the deceased was over seventy years old. Also, it’s used to celebrate victory when warriors return from war. In this case, the warrior’s wife prepares akara and serves it to the neighbors.

The making of akara starts by peeling beans that have been soaked in water. This is followed by grinding, stirring, and frying the mix in the desired shapes and sizes. However, ingredients such as pepper, onion, tomato, and salt are added to the bean mix before grinding it.

While akara is best served with bread, koko, pap, eko tutu, and garri, some folks prefer to eat it alone.

9. Fufu

Credit: @kimi_eats_gluten_free

Nutritional fact per 240 g serving:

  • Calories: 398 kcal
  • Fat: 7.2 g
  • Carb: 81 g
  • Protein: 3.6 g

Fufu, one of the popular Nigerian foods, is native to West African countries like Ghana, Togo, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, and others. It’s thick, white, and looks like dough when prepared. It’s typically rolled and eaten with soup like other food of its class.

This meal is made from peeled, soaked, and fermented cassava. The cassava is soaked until soft and dissolved to form a creamy paste, after which the undissolved particles are extracted. Afterward, the processed cassava is introduced into boiled water and stirred until it attains the desired result.

It’s important to note that you’re likely to spend more time preparing fufu on fire than other foods of its class, such as amala, wheat, semolina, and cornmeal.

Fufu is best served with ila alasepo (mixed okra soup), spinach soup, and egusi, but you may also enjoy it with other types of soup.

10. Abacha (African Salad)

Abacha (African Salad)
Credit: @foodblogafrica

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 169.30 kcal
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carb: 21.07 g
  • Protein: 4.38 g

Abacha, or African salad, is prepared with cooked cassava. The cooked cassava is sliced to considerable thickness, after which it’s soaked in water for up to eight hours. Afterward, it’s spread under the sun to dry.

The preparation involved soaking the dried cassava slices in hot water and straining it. The next step is to mix it with other ingredients such as ugba or ukpaka,  potash, red oil, fish, onion, pepper, garden egg leaves, garden egg, ogiri, locust beans, and salt.

Like every other food, one could eat abacha to satisfy hunger; however, in Igbo land, abacha isn’t considered a main meal per se. It’s only eaten before or after meals or as an in-between food.

11. Ofe Akwu (Banga Soup)

Ofe Akwu (Banga Soup)
Credit: @comida_cuisine

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving

  • Calories: 340 kcal
  • Fat: 36 g
  • Carb: 13 g
  • Protein: 40 g

Ofe akwu, or banga soup, is a delicious soup native to the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria. The name ‘ofe akwu’ is of Igbo origin with the following meaning: ‘ofe’ means soup, while ‘akwu’ means palm fruit.

This soup is prepared with palm fruit oil extract — this oil extract is different from regular red oil because it combines palm oil and water.

Other ingredients employed in the preparation of banga soup are stockfish, fresh fish, meat, dry scent leaves, palm nut extract, seasoning, ugwu leaves, crayfish, small chunks of ogiri okpei, salt, and pepper.

The taste of ofe akwu depends on how well it’s prepared and how many other ingredients are used during the cooking process.

Ofe akwu is usually served with fufu, pounded yam, eba, and other staple foods among the  Niger Delta people of Nigeria. However, it’s common to serve this soup with boiled rice in Southeastern Nigeria.

12. Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice
Credit: @foodblogafrica

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 144.545 kcal
  • Fat: 2.665 g
  • Carb: 27.505 g
  • Protein: 2.635 g

Jollof rice is one of Nigeria’s most popular and delicious dishes across other West African states. Depending on the ingredients employed in its preparation, the dish could appear golden brown or orange.

Jollof rice originates from the Senegambia region in the 14th century, where rice was grown. Today, Senegambia is known as part of Senegal, Mauritania, and Gambia. The dish later spread to Nigeria, Mali, and other West African states.

Jollof rice is usually cooked with rice, vegetable oil, onion, a lot of tomatoes, fresh pepper, vegetables, butter, spices, seasoning, salt, and others. However, the exact mix of ingredients differs from region to region. In fact, there’s debate as to which tastes better between Nigerian jollof and Ghanaian jollof.

Jollof rice is quite common in Nigeria among all tribes, and practically everyone eats it. As a matter of fact, the dish is probably the best food to be served at every ceremony in the country.

It’s typically served with beef, egg, meat, or plantain. However, considering that jollof rice is rich in carbohydrates, people with diabetes should be wary of excessive consumption.

13. Ngwo Ngwo (Goat Pepper Soup)

Ngwo Ngwo (Goat Pepper Soup)
Credit: @otunjama3

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 150 kcal
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Carb: 10 g
  • Protein: 10 g

Ngwo ngwo, or goat pepper soup, is a delicacy native to the Igbo of Southeastern Nigeria. This meal is said to be the most popular Nigerian pepper soup and the easiest to prepare.

Ngwo Ngwo is prepared with certain parts of goat meat such as the intestines, kidney, liver, bowel, heart, testicles, spleen, and little flesh. The soup is typically served when hot, especially in the harmattan season, partly because some Igbo agreed that it treats the flu.

Moreover, it’s one of those soups you can prepare without adding oil.

Ngwo ngwo is best served alone and could be drunk like a beverage. It’s often paired with palm wine and can also be eaten with white rice or agidi (cornmeal native to Southeastern Nigeria).

14. Iyan (Pounded Yam)

Iyan (Pounded Yam)
Credit: @nigerianlazychef

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Carb: 213g
  • Calories: 108.953 kcal
  • Fat: 42g
  • Protein: 1.03g

Iyan (or pounded yam) is a popular recipe native to the Yoruba tribe of Western Nigeria but is widely eaten among the Ebira, Igbo, and even the Hausa of Northern Nigeria.

The food is a white, heavy, and solid local food prepared by boiling peeled yam for 30–40 minutes, after which it’s pounded with a mortar and pestle. The pounding process requires adding hot water to the yam till it turns soft.

Pounded yam, a tasty and sweet meal, is traditionally eaten by hand and is best served with efo riro, egusi soup, and bush meat. However, it could be eaten with other types of soup such as okra, ewedu, and others.

15. Amala (Yam Flour/Unripe Plantain Flour/ Cassava Flour)

Credit: @thebukafood

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 89.4 kcal
  • Fat: 0.12 g
  • Carb: 20.53 g
  • Protein: 0.3 g

Amala is a staple food native to the Yoruba people of Southwestern Nigeria. It’s prepared with flour called elubo.

Amala is typically made from three different types of flour: yam flour, plantain flour, and cassava flour. Let’s examine each one below.

Yam Flour: This is made from peeled, dried, and ground yam. The flour usually appears white but turns brown after turning into amala.

Unripe plantain flour: This is made from peeled, sliced, and dried unripe plantain. When grounded, unripe plantain is white but also turns brown when cooked.

Cassava flour: This is made from peeled, sliced, and dried cassava. This flour is white and retains this color even after preparation.

Cassava and yam flour are much higher in calories than unripe plantain flour. Hence, the latter may be more suitable for people with diabetes.

For the best experience, you should serve amala with ewedu, egusi, or spinach soup.

16. Ogbono Soup (African Mango Seed Soup)

Ogbono Soup (African Mango Seed Soup)
Credit: @ezinneskitchen

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 704 kcal
  • Fat: 66.9 g
  • Carb: 16.4 g
  • Protein: 7.9 g

Ogbono soup, also known as African mango seed soup, is a soup native to the Igbo people of Southeastern Nigeria. This delicacy is made with dried and grounded ogbono seed, the local name for Irvingia gabonensis.

Ogbono seed is obtained from a forest tree that belongs to the non-timber forest product. It has different names across different cultures —  ‘ogbono’ in Igbo, ‘oro’ in Yoruba, ‘pekpeara’ in Nupe, ‘uyo’ in Efik, and ‘ogwi’ among the Benin tribe.

Ogbono is prepared with the following ingredients: ogbono seeds, meat, salt, seasonings, oil, vegetables, locust beans, tomatoes, onions, pepper, and water. When ogbono is grounded, it could be used as a soup thickener, making it thicker and giving it a darker look.

Like okra, ogbono soup also draws when prepared well. It’s typically served with fufu, cornmeal, or red eba; you may also couple it with other staple foods like pounded yam, semolina, and amala.

17. Ofada Rice

Ofada Rice
Credit: @ramandbeer

Nutritional fact per 198 g serving:

  • Calories: 216 kcal
  • Fat: 1.8 g
  • Carb: 45 g
  • Protein: 5 g

Ofada rice is another delicious and healthy Nigerian meal native to the Yoruba tribe of the country’s Western regions.

The name ‘ofada’ came from Ofada, a small community in Obafemi Owode Local Government area, Ogun state. Although the rice didn’t grow in the Ofada community, it was named after it — Ofada rice typically grows within Ogun state, Southwestern Nigeria.

Unlike the other type of rice that grows by the riverside or on soil dampened with water, Ofada rice grows on regular soil that isn’t submerged in water.

Ofada rice’s low-calorie profile makes it a food of choice over the traditional white rice by people with type 2 diabetes. The reason isn’t far-fetched — it keeps their blood sugar in check, contrary to the typical white rice.

Ofada rice is cooked the same way as other types of rice and is best served with stew sauce.

18. Nkwobi

Credit: @foodblogafrica

Nutritional fact per 100 g serving:

  • Calories: 617.44 kcal
  • Fat: 48.916 g
  • Carb: 28.336 g
  • Protein: 14.978 g

Nkwobi is another popular Nigerian food recipe native to the Igbo ethnic group of the Southeastern part of the country. It’s a common delicacy in Nigerian beer parlors and some Nigerian restaurants.

Made with cow feet, the process of preparing nkwobi often requires cooking the meat until it’s soft enough to chew. Although it takes a while to achieve the result, it’s worth the time. It’s often easier to prepare nkwobi if you have a slow or pressure cooker; you may also cook ahead and refrigerate for later.

The ingredients for making nkwobi include meat, seasoning, potash, palm oil, onion, pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Occasionally, animals like rabbits, squirrels, and grass cutters may be slaughtered and used as meat to cook nkwobi. This meal is best enjoyed with boiled yam or eaten alone as an evening snack.

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Nigerian food recipes are amazing and have tremendous nutritional value, owing to the various ingredients used in preparing them. Most of these ingredients often have incredible health benefits in addition to their fantastic taste.

We hope we’ve been able to apprise you of those common Nigerian meals to try the next time you visit a Nigerian restaurant. Be it starchy meals like jollof rice or highly proteinous ones like nkowbi, one thing is sure — you’re in for a great treat.

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