What it is: A pottage made of beans and plantains,
Why it's awesome: Nigerians love a pottage, and they are most commonly made with yams (Nigeria is one of the top producers of yam in the world). This variation balances the nuttiness of brown beans with the natural sweetness of plantains, and the palm oil adds a rich smoky taste to it.
What it is: Essentially, a "dry" leafy vegetable soup from the Cross River region of Nigeria. The (iron-rich) greens are a mixture of ugwu (a fluted pumpkin leaf) and gbure (waterleaf). In places where these leaves are unavailable, people substitute spinach. People also use a mix of meats and fish, and for authenticity, periwinkles.
Why it's awesome: Served hot, with pounded yam or fufu, it's a party in your mouth. Top tip: get a friend from Calabar to cook it for you - there's nothing like it.
What it is: A soup made from ground ogbono (African mango) seeds plus palm oil, stock and spices. It's usually eaten with staples like eba, fufu, pounded yam or amala.
Why it's awesome: It has "draw", that wonderful slippery texture that helps the fufu go down easier. There are many variations on it, too: cooked alone, with vegetables, with or without meat or fish, with okra, or even with added melon seeds (egusi). It's super-quick to cook, and a perfect introduction to the many soups of Nigerian cuisine.
What it is: Smashed white or brown beans served with a pepper and palm oil sauce.
Why it's awesome: This is a perfect hot street food. "Ewa" is "beans" in Yoruba and "Agoyin" is a reference to the Beninoise peoples who originated this dish. The beans are cooked until soft (some say it must be mashed, others say it's OK to have a few individual beans remain whole) and distinctive dark, smoky sauce has a palm oil base, with dried peppers, onions and some people add ground crayfish. It tastes magical.
What it is: Grated cocoyams wrapped in cocoyam leaves and cooked with periwinkles, greens, and palm oil.
Why it's awesome: This is a dish from the Efik ethnic group, and part of the Nigerian family of porridges. This is really something – I've only ever eaten it on special occasions partly because it can be a little finicky to cook, but it's so worth it: creamy, flavoursome comfort food at its best.
There 's a really handy recipe video here and another one here.
What it is: Spicy cow foot served in a thick palm oil-based sauce.
Why it's awesome: Listen, "cow foot" may not sound like a delicacy, but you'll just have to take it on trust that it is. For that authentic taste, you must use utazi leaves and palm oil.
There's a recipe here, and another one here. Or you could just head over to a Nigerian restaurant and try your luck there.
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