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  With over 250 ethnic groups spread across 36 states, Nigeria is a nation rich in cultural diversity. This incredible variety is reflected in the country’s cuisine as well. Nigerian foods offer a delicious adventure with distinct flavours and specialities in each region. While basic starchy staples like pounded yam, garri, rice or fufu act as the foundation, the soups, stews, proteins and produce utilized can differ quite significantly depending on the part of Nigeria. In this article, I highlight some of these popular Nigerian foods.
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The North

Nigerian Foods
Tuwo Shinkafa – Wikipedia
In Nigeria’s northern territories, dishes heavily feature dried red chillies, groundnut, and the iconic West African spice blend baharat. The arid climate makes farmer-herder cultures more common, resulting in hearty meals with abundant meat and dairy. Staple Northern dishes include tuwo shinkafa (thick rice pudding) dipped in tasty miyan kuka (baobab soup), as well as smoky, grilled suya kebabs made from spicy beef, lamb or chicken. Don’t miss thick, peanut-based groundnut soup or wake cakes made from fermented rice dough.

The West 

Nigerian Foods
Efo Riro –
Jollof rules supreme in Western Nigeria. This beloved tomato-based rice dish is almost a symbol of national cuisine. However, each region puts its spin on Jollof’s ingredient-blend of tomatoes, onions, chilli peppers, spices and long-grain rice. Other iconic Western staples include iyan (pounded yam) smothered in aromatic ewedu (jute leaf) soup or rich efo riro made with spinach and assorted proteins like smoked fish, beef and chicken. Eba (garri pudding) and dough balls called amala are popular carb bases for savoury stews too.
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The East

Ogbono – 9jafoodie
Known as one of Nigeria’s “Soup Territories,” Eastern cuisine features countless flavourful varieties of thin, drawing soups or rich, highly-spiced stews. Oha, ogbono, nsala, and ofe akwu are just a few examples. These generous soups are served atop or pounded into stretchy, sticky fufu dough made from fermented cassava flour. Signature dishes also include jollof rice cooked in the East’s unique ukpaka style and Abakaliki sweet rice. Specialities like roasted grasshoppers are prized snacks too!

The South

Nigerian Foods
Fisherman’s Soup – SisiYemmieTV
The South is famous for its seafood-centric cuisine given its coastal geography and riverside communities. Must-try South region specialities revolve around fish, shellfish and other bounties from the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll find flavourful palm nut and herb-based soups and stews like edikaikong, callaloo and fisherman’s soup loaded with croakers, shellfish and more. Mainstay fufu, garri and eba sop up those tasty broths. Delta State’s iconic banga offers a mouthwatering blend of fermented palm fruit, nuts and vegetables.
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Final Thoughts

Whether you prefer bold spice blends, simmered greens, fresh fish or herby broths, Nigerian foods showcase incredible regional diversity in their traditional dishes. Every bite offers a mouthwatering taste of the nation’s multicultural blend of people and culinary influences. From Jollof and suya up north to banga and peppersoup down south, grabbing a tour through all the local specialities is a delicious way to experience the many flavours of Nigeria. Your taste buds will savour this delectable cross-country adventure!
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This article was first published on 21st May 2024


Chidiogo Shalom Akaelu holds a degree in English and Literary Studies, from the University of Nigeria. She is a freelance writer, editor and founder of Loana Press, a budding online publishing outlet.

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