African delicacies are winning more converts as many people who visit relaxation spots in towns and cities place order for them. Besides, local delicacies have become popular dishes served at special occasions and at festivals
| By Chinwe Okafor | Apr. 14, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
IT IS not out of place for a first time visitor to Blaze Bar, Okota, Ago Palace, Lagos state, to assume that Nigeria is rich in African delicacies. The popular relaxation spot is where people around the area come every day to cool off with all sorts of drinks after the day’s activities. Blaze Bar does not serve only drinks, it also serves many African and Nigerian delicacies. These delicacies are mouth-watering and the main attraction of customers.
Blaze Bar is just one out of the hundreds of beer parlors within Lagos that serve local delicacies. One popular delicacy usually sold and served at the joints is pepper soup hot meal which is an incredibly spicy, flavored and aromatic broth like soup made primarily from a blend of native seeds and good amount of water, to which small cuts of a protein of choice is always added. The protein could either be in the form of goat meat, cow skin, chicken, fish or turkey. They could also be the innards or offals of an animal or parts of the animal that would normally be discarded which include the intestines, hearts, liver and other such parts.
Another of such is the Nkwobi. This is a classic and very popular delicacy originating from the South-Eastern region in Nigeria. Made with cow legs cooked and smothered in thick sauce, it is one of the many culinary delights of Igbo origin. It’s more of an appetizer and usually served on its own. Nkwobi has become a favourite part of the menu served in traditional restaurants at home and beyond. It’s a simple yet tasty dish with a tempting flavour which keeps one asking for more. Nkwobi can easily be prepared by anybody who knows the recipe. Although the delicacy originates from South-Eastern Nigeria, it is popular among most Nigerians, irrespective of tribe. The Utazi leaf which is used to serve the food contains properties that can significantly reduce blood sugar level in diabetic patients, as well as serve as antioxidant.
Beyond pepper soup and Nkwobi, there are other delicacies from Igbo land. One of such is Abacha popularly known as African salad. Abacha, as the Igbos love to call it, is one of the most popular evening desserts in villages in the eastern part of Nigeria. It is served as kola to visitors. Oha soup is another delicacy from the eastern region. It is not just a culinary delight among the Igbo people but is also relished among other tribes of Southern Nigeria. The soup is made special because of its method of preparation and some of the special condiments including cocoyam used in preparing it.
Gozie Ezeofia, a business man at the Lagos Island market, is among those who love to eat delicacies from the Eastern part of Nigeria. He visits relaxation joints at the close of business every day before going home. Although, according to him, most of the foods eaten by Igbos have high calorie contents which promote fat, they were still popular among the people. But one of the popular delicacies which is not fattening in nature is the Ukwa recipe otherwise known as breadfruit.
“It is a special food for guests at weddings and other big ceremonies and is good for diabetic patients because of its high medicinal value and high fibre content. However, its preparation is expensive and this makes it a delicacy only meant for the rich and can be eaten with or without palm oil,” he said.
Among the Yorubas of South-West Nigeria, there are also popular local delicacies which have medicinal properties. One of such delicacies is the Egbo. It is one of the local delicacies that contain fewer calories. Egbo is made is made from cooked dried corn which is tended on fire until it is mashed. Its main accompaniment is beans but Egbo can be eaten with either groundnut oil or specially garnished stew laced with locust bean.
The Yorubas also enjoy eating Ekuru which is a special delicacy eaten during special occasions or at festivals. The food is made from de-husked beans blended and wrapped in green leaves. There is also the asun barbecued meat which is also a popular local delicacy. It is basically made with goat meat in pepper sauce and usually served as an appetizer. Assun delicacy is also available at local restaurants.
There are also some delicacies that are peculiar to sub-ethnic groups in Yoruba land. Dog meat is one and is very popular among Yorubas in Ondo state and among the Ijebus in Ogun state. Ikokore, also known as porridge, is another. Made from water yam and other spices, it is also a special delicacy eaten on special occasions. Though the Yorubas generally love amala, the yam flour is a special meal for the people of Ibadan in Oyo state. One feature that distinguishes Hausa foods and delicacies from the rest of the country is that theirs are mainly sourced from crops, legumes and cow milk. They rarely eat fish and meat except when they prepare white soup.
However, some of the northern popular delicacies are masa, fried maize balls and fura d’ nunu. Ahmed Adam, an Hausa trader in Kaduna, said the kind of food eaten by Hausas explains why they are rarely fat. “Our foods have fewer calories than Yoruba and Igbo foods. We can drink plain soup as a meal and we rarely add assorted meats to our dishes,” he said.