Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jul 4, 2007 09:53 AM

Spaghetti, tomatoes & Nigerian cuisine

I'm interested in knowing more about Nigerian food since a new upscale Nigerian restaurant just opened in Berkeley.

Digression: Does anyone know of another upscale Nigerian restaurant in the USA?

Anyway, the food I had on my first visit was wonderful. One poster wrote ...

"I have a question: looking at the lunch menu I was a bit put off by the prevalence of tomato sauce. How does Jollof spaghetti differ from Italian? What did African food taste like before tomatoes came from the Americas? (I know what Italian food tasted like.) I thought of more peanut-based foods. This is not a complaint but an interest."

Have no clue since my Nigerian food knowledge is limited to one local church yam festival.

Here's a little general info on Nigerian Cuisine

Even better was this blog from a Nigerian of the Yoruba culture who talks about the food and has a list describing the food and drink.

Who knew there were three types of African (NOT American) yams ... the white ones, the yellow ones, and the 'water yams'.

Here was a Nigerian forum which someone gave a recipe for Pasta with Bolognese sauce (Ezzy style) that seems to have some Jollof qualities ... chili pepper and Maggi is in the sauce ... there's a picture of the finished product. I'm guessing Ezzy style means Esan, one of the other major groups like Igbo, Hausa, Edo and Uehobo.

Different country, but here's a review of a Chicago Eritrean restaurant which serves Eritrean Spaghetti. It says that country was once an Italian colony so maybe there is some cross-culture cooking where people from that region might have moved to Nigeria

Also how and with what should these foods be eaten?
Iyan – pounded yam dumplings
Eba – grated cassava dumplings
Ila – ground okra sauce

Oh ... one more question. Is Nigerian ice cream different somehow? One person on the web said they liked it a lot but didn't go into detail.

Thanks for any help.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. hi there,

    i just came back from a 6 month volunteer placement in nigeria (north central region) so i can give you what limited knowledge i have.

    in general, the nigerian food i had was divided into starch and soup and protein (if you could afford it). starch was presented usually as a ball (i guess you could call it a dumpling) so you could have a ball of pounded (white) yam, pounded rice, ground cassava, semovita and so on. you would take a chunk of the starch with your fingers and dip it into the soup - which was quite unlike North American soups, having a small amount of soup with condensed flavours. and you could also have fish pepper soup, goat head pepper soup, which were popular dishes.

    with respect to the tomato question, yes, i wondered about that myself - tomatoes were very prevalent in the region (as were onions - in fact, those were pretty much the only two items i could purchase regularly in my village) but generally used to make a stew (ground tomato, ground onion with a variety of spices) that you would eat with rice or other starches. they weren't used in more traditional dishes like egusi soup, ground okra soup and draw soup but were sometimes ground to be used as bases for other soups.

    if you were to go to a "chop house" (restaurant) you would inevitably find jollof rice available (which is essentially fried rice with tomato paste, vegetables and spices) as a starch option. i think it's a more modern phenomenon, but i don't recall seeing any jollof spaghetti.

    in terms of peanuts (called ground nuts over there) i found that in my region they were predominantly used for oil, with the leftovers being used for peanut snacks. it was rare for me to find peanut based soups, although when i did find them, they were quite tasty.

    hope this helps!

    1 Reply
    1. re: n10sity

      Thanks so much for the info. So, is there Nigerian food in Ontario? Or have you had enough to last you a while?

    2. I don't know why the different types of fufu are called dumplings in America, I don't know what I'd call them but certainly not dumplings