Nigerian restaurants are not all that common in the United States. As such, the first few times you come across one, it's easy to shrug it off or walk right past it. But the next time the opportunity arises, you really should stop in for some lunch or dinner. Nigerian cuisine is quite unique, and it's definitely worth experiencing. After reviewing this article, you'll have a better idea of what to expect, which will help you have an even better meal.
What foods are common in Nigerian cuisine?
Nigeria, a nation on the west coast of Africa, has a tropical climate. As such, a lot of the typical tropical foods you're probably familiar with — coconuts, bananas, mangoes, and pineapple — are common in the cuisine. Many spices also grow well in Nigeria, so the dishes tend to be really spicy and hot. Rice is a staple starchy food in the diet, and beans are often used as a source of protein. Nigerians do eat meat, but it can be expensive, so many of the dishes that evolved in less-affluent neighborhoods combine beans and meat as a way to boost the protein content inexpensively.
Nigerians also tend to eat in large groups, so a lot of the dishes were created to be cooked in large quantities. For this reason, stews and soups are really common.
What are some top dishes to try?
Every Nigerian restaurant is going to have a somewhat different menu, but here are a few hallmark dishes you'll find almost everywhere.
Jollof Rice: Made with spicy, Scotch bonnet peppers and tomatoes, this flavorful rice dish is usually served as a side.
Suya: This is a general term for grilled meat. It's similar to barbecue, but it's sauced with a combination of spices and peanut powder for a unique touch.
Banga Soup: Often served as an appetizer or first course, banga soup is made with palm nuts, crayfish, and chili peppers.
Maafe: Made from ground peanuts, tomatoes, and either chicken or beef, this dish is an example of how Nigerians combine legumes (in this case peanuts) with meat to create protein-rich dishes. Maafe is a hearty stew typically served over rice.
Visiting a Nigerian restaurant is sure to be a wonderful experience. Try one of the popular dishes above, and don't be afraid to order something more creative and unique, too. This is a vast cuisine with a lot of options.
To learn more, contact a Nigerian restaurant.