Typical Nigerian Street Food
One thing is guaranteed, Nigerian street food is the most delicious stuff you’ll ever eat in Nigeria. Sure, there are fancy restaurants, and there are celebrity chefs, and you might even get to eat delicious home cooked meals, but nothing beats street food.
Children have gotten punished over and over again by parents for sneaking out to buy street food, and they still sneak out again. Students have gotten in trouble with teachers for sneaking out of school to buy street food, and they still do it again. Husbands have bought street food, refused to eat their wives’ food, and suffered dire consequences, and they still love street food. There’s no denying everyone loves Nigerian street food. It might not be prepared under the most sanitary conditions, but those who make street food have an innate ability in the culinary arts that cannot be taught.
Nigeria is such a diverse country, with over 100 different languages, street food available really depends on where exactly in the country you find yourself. However, we will highlight some of the more popular Nigerian street food.
Suya is spicy skewered meat which originates from the Hausa people from Northern Nigeria. Suya is peculiar for the unique yaji spice in which the meat is marinated before being barbecued. The yaji spice recipe is a tightly controlled secret. It is made up of ground peanuts, salt, red pepper, ginger, bouillon cubes amongst other spices. The ratio of this formula is however not commonly known. Suya is now commonly available all over Nigeria and it is a truly Nigerian street food.
Roasted corn and Ube
Roasted corn is a popular sight on the streets. Sellers sit on a low stool, typically with a large metal basin, filled with hot charcoals and freshly peeled corn roasting atop a metal grate on the basin of coals. It is sometimes possible to find the same seller, also selling boiled corn. Although roasted corn is often eaten alone, it is typically sold with a roasted fruit known as Ube, the African or bush pear. The flesh of ube is very similar to that of the avocado.
Roasted Plantain and Groundnut
Roasted Plantains, commonly known as boli are another street favorite. Boli and groundnut go hand in hand like Jack and Jill, like black and white, like…let me stop there. Similar to roasted corn, it is sold on the street roasted over a similar charcoal filled basin as roasted corn. This is probably the first Nigerian street food I was introduced to. Long before I ever got a taste of suya, I must have had boli and epa. This is my dad’s favorite. Many afternoons, this combination was his lunch of choice. Till today, when he wants to snack, he’d rather have some boli and epa.
These are absolutely amazing. Little delicious fried sugary dough puffs of goodness. Light, fluffy and curiously round. Definitely not for the fit of fam! lol!
These are similar to Puff Puff, but are a lot denser as there is no use of yeast in the dough. As such, they tend to be a favorite amongst laborers and others with a very active lifestyle. They’re very affordable as well.
Kilishi is a bit similar to suya and like beef jerky for those who have had jerky. However, Kilishi is typically not sold hot, and it is a lot tougher. This is due to the process of making it. Meat is cut into wafer thin slices and dried. It is then left to soak in a special sauce before being roasted. The result is a delicious tough meat that you can chew on endlessly.
This was one of the first things I learnt to make as a kid. My grandma and I made these many more times than I can count. They are a favorite for a lot of people because they are usually very sweet, and crunchy. This is more of a snack, than street food, but there are specialists who make these to sell on the road, and the time spent making them means it just makes sense to buy if you want a decent quantity.
Dundun and Akara
Dundun is fried yam (not sweet potatoes). I blame fried yams for the period in my childhood when I gained a tremendous amount of weight. Fried yams are quite addictive.
I almost feel like akara deserves its own heading, but from experience, these two are amazing together. The street sellers also pair the two with an amazing pepper sauce. That sauce alone catapults this combo near the top of my favorite street foods. Suya is impossible to topple though.
When we were younger, it was forbidden to eat this. But, my darling sister helped overrule that once she got into university. This is essentially really. soft mashed beans paired with a delicious pepper sauce. This combo with bread, are a match made in heaven! Again, the pepper sauce taking things to the next level!
Imagine our pleasant surprise when mummy naijachef came to visit, and she had sugar cane in her bag! The bad aspect of sugar cane though, is that, sugar cane itself is not edible, and so, you only eat it to suck the juices out, and the rest is discarded (read: spat out). This can make for unpleasant viewing and it is not uncommon to see sugar cane remnants on the streets.
Plantain chips are a personal favorite. I love plantain chips so much, that it is at the top of my request list for anyone I know coming to the US from Nigeria. God bless my parents for the countless sacks of chips they’ve delivered. I almost always have some every work day for break fast. The ripe crunchy ones are the best. If you would like to try making these at home, I have a recipe here
Where are you from? and what are some of your favorite street foods? Share with us below in the comments section!