Exploring Nigerian Cuisine: Top 10 Traditional Dishes You Must Try

Exploring Nigerian Cuisine: Top 10 Traditional Dishes You Must Try
Written by Omolola Akinyemi

Nigerian culture as a whole is so rich, broad, and diverse. Without any doubt, to embark on exploring Nigerian cuisine in its richness and diversity will be a tasty journey. The country is additionally blessed with beautiful Nature and cheerful citizens. It beckons foreigners far and wide into an interesting, hospitality-filled world. Oh yes, Nigerians are truly homely and hospitable. 

exploring Nigerian cuisine

And hold it – we have plenty of delicious tradtional Nigerian dishes to offer. An exciting mix of the best traditional foods in Nigeria is available for the eager tourist to sample and even take home. We are going to be exploring Nigerian cuisine by highlighting the top 10 traditional dishes you need to try out. Yet again, we recommend these dishes if you are a Nigerian, and have never eaten some of them because of your geographical location. Now is the time to sample and enjoy them. It promises to be an unforgettable experience.


Exploring Nigerian Cuisine: The Top 10 Traditional Dishes Recommended for You

Pounded Yam

Pounded yam

Pounded yam is the king of all swallow foods. It originated from the Yoruba tribe of southwest Nigeria. This rich meal is made by pounding boiled yam until smooth, and is an absolute take-home. You will continue to enjoy the after-taste long after you have emptied the food bowl. If you long for traditional comfort foods, then pounded yam is a big scorer you should not miss. 

Pounded yam can be served with any rich Nigerian soup or stew. It could be spinach, melon (Egusi), Ogbono, okra, Edikang Ikong, Ọha, bitter leaf soup, or other such fantastic soups/stews we have around. 

Jollof Rice

Jollof rice

Who can forget the world-famous, aromatic Nigerian Jollof rice? You have nearly not started exploring Nigerian cuisine without tasting the Nigerian Jollof rice. And this is just the beginning! The best-prepared Jollof rice dish can take you to heaven and back. Jollof Rice is rice cooked in a rich sauce or stew full of tomatoes, pepper, onions, and spices. It is a well-known West African dish prepared in Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Togo, and Cameroon as well. However its origins can be traced to Senegal

A favorite accompaniment of this sumptious rice dish could be any one of the following: fried plantains, Moin-Moin, meat, or fish (or a combination). You might throw in some salad and/or fried potatoes, it all goes well. It is simply too delicious to ignore.



The swallow meal known as Amala is a fluffy, stomach-friendly, and low-calorie meal made out of steamed flour, and thoroughly kneaded with a spatula. The flour could be made out of dried yam, cassava, or plantain. This light meal is best enjoyed with typical ‘draw’ soups such as jute (Ewedu) optional served with beans stew (Gbegiri); or Ogbono soup. In reality, Amala can be paired with any rich Nigerian soup or stew you prefer.  

Pepper Soup

Pepper soup

Pepper soup is a spicy and light West African soup, commonly enjoyed in the evening with chilled drinks or native palm wine. The typical ingredients of this hot soup is a combination of special ‘peppersoup spices‘ cooked with tomatoes, peppers, onions, ginger, and garlic. You may choose to add meat, fish, or poultry meat (or even a combination). 

It is the perfect soup for a cold or rainy day, as it instantly gives warmth to the whole body. However, prepare yourself to endure the hotness and iresistible flavours of this soup. 

Ogbono Soup

Ogbono soup

Ogbono soup is a typical Nigerian ‘draw’ soup (slippery soup) made from dried mango seeds. It originated from among the Igbo tribe of southeast Nigeria. It can be cooked with veggies, meat, fish, or melon seeds(Egusi) and eaten with any swallow meal.


Mixed Okra Soup (‘Ila Asepo’)

Mixed Okra soup

Mixed (or variety) okra soup is prepared by boiling chopped okra fruits with peppers, tomatoes, onions, and palm oil. You may optionally add meat, fish, crabs, prawns, and locust beans (or a combination) to the mix. 

Okra soup is a hearty lunch inspiration you can eat with any well-known Nigerian swallow meal such as steamed cassava (Eba), Amala, pounded yam (Iyan), cassava meal (Fufu), and a host of others. 


Yam Porridge (Asaro)


Asaro is another signature meal of the Yoruba people, which has now become a delicacy enjoyed across the nation. It is simply yam and beans boiled together (although the beans are optional) until they are soft. The mixture is thereafter mashed together. The other common ingredients of this recipe are palm oil, pepper, and tomatoes, with seasoning and salt to taste. 

You may choose to add meat, dried fish, prawns/crayfish, or poultry. It is also commonly served with tomato stew, vegetables, and/or fried plantains. This meal is so rich and satisfying, you need to try it. 


Bean Dishes (Beans stew, Akara, Moin-Moin)

Bean stew

Beans are grown in abundance and eaten across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Beans can be cooked and served as a rich stew, with palm oil, peppers, onions and (optionally) tomatoes mixed into it. And besides this, there are two popular versions of bean dishes also eaten all over Nigeria. They are called Akara (bean cakes) and Moin-Moin (bean pudding).

Both Akara and Moin-Moin are made from peeled and blended beans. Whereas akara is fried into balls, Moin-Moin is scooped into containers (or broad leaves) and steamed or boiled. Typical ingredients of either Akara or Moin-Moin include peppers, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, salt, and seasoning to taste.  In the case of Moin-Moin, you can add crayfish, boiled eggs, flaked fish, and/or minced meat.

Whichever you choose, bean dishes are rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. You need to sample this rich food.


Plantains (Fried, Roasted, Boiled)

Roasted Plantain

Plantains are fruits grown in abundance in the Southern regions of Nigeria. This delicious fruit may be consumed boiled as part of porridge, or boiled separately and served with a rich stew. Plantains can also be fried (in vegetable or palm oil), or roasted and served with groundnuts and/or grilled fish. 

Fried plantains are also a common accompaniment to other famous dishes. They include Jollof rice, porridge, scrambled eggs, beans, bread, spaghetti, noodles, and cereals; or just served on its own. In any case, the taste of this wonderful fruit is heavenly.

Beef Suya


You have not experienced the soul of Nigeria if you have not tasted the popular Suya (beef steak) at least once in your life. The original Suya is beef cut into thin strips and grilled – a delicacy prepared by the northerners and commonly sold as street food. It is served with onions, tomatoes, and other veggies, along with the famous Yaji spice. 

Modern versions of Suya make use of chicken, turkey, ram, or goat meat. The resulting taste is a treasure – particularly with the Yaji spice added. Your tasty Suya can be taken with cereals, cassava flakes (Garri), bread, or simply on its own.



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About the author

Omolola Akinyemi

A Computer Science graduate of UNILAG, I hail from Ekiti state of Nigeria. An astute teacher, learner & admin assistant of many years experience. I love technology, innovation, and Nature. A problem solving mentality is important to me. The future is only seconds away, and I believe I can define the future now. You can also.