Nigeria lies on the western Africa coast, on the Gulf of Guinea, surrounded by the countries of Benin, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. Between the desert-like north of the country, touching the Sahara, and the tropical south, there are plateaus, hills, forest, savannah and a coastal plain good for farming. The climate is always hot and, although rainfall varies from almost nothing to rain forest conditions, most of the rain happens during a single rainy season.
More people live in Nigerian than any other country in Africa and Nigeria probably has more ethnic variety too. Well over 250 groups and tribes live in its land, many with their individual culture, religion and language. Some ethnic groups speak more than one language and Nigeria can boast of over 500 living languages, a couple more without native speakers and a few extinct ones. That is why English was chosen as official language, to unite the country and make cultural interchange among groups possible.
Nigeria has a rich cultural background in art, music and writing. Just to mention African juju music –a particular style that uses African drums, guitars and very complex harmonies- which begun in Nigeria or Yoruba masks –representing gods and forces of nature. Carved sculptures, masks, and paintings have been found in Nigeria more than 2,000 years old. This variety of people and cultures also shows in Nigerian cuisine.
If you visit the country with the hope of tasting some Nigerian fare, you may find food such as:
Jollof rice – a dish made of vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers, a starch, such as rice, and meat or fish, if available. Jollof rice is the Nigerian version of a one pot meal and a typical main course.
Fufu – a starchy food made with ground plantains or yams. Fufu served with stews and other recipes with a sauce, usually on a plate at the center, you should roll pieces of fufu with your fingers and use it to scoop the stew or dip in the sauce.
Suya – meat kebabs coated with ground peanuts and chili and barbecued.
Dodo – fried plantains, usually peeled, sliced and fried in palm oil.
Boli – baked plantains, usually baked whole.
Yam chips – a popular snack.
The list of popular vegetables includes cassava, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, okra, spinach, onions, peas, and yams. Bananas, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, melon, guava, and limes are favorite fruits while millet, corn and sorghum are typical grains.
Recipes from Nigeria
Life expectancy is only 47 years.
The main rivers are the Niger and the Benue.
Palm oil – made from palm kernels. Palm oil has a characteristic red color. Groundnut oil is also used.
Yam – a vegetable similar to sweet potato, although not as sweet in flavor and a yellow interior instead of deep orange.