Food is celebrated as a key element of the Nigerian culture. Food is embraced for fellowship, worship, and survival. The staple foods of Nigeria include rice, yam, cassava, and wheat (bread). Traditionally, Nigerians (at least the elders) don’t cook by recipe. The fine art of cooking Nigerian food is normally handed down through observation, apprenticeship, and experimentation. When asked how they cook so well without a written guide, the older Nigerian mothers would only say that “they just do it.” This attests to their experiential learning of the art of Nigerian cooking. As modern practices take root, more and more Nigerians are resorting to the guiding “hands” of written recipes. That is what informs the writing of this book. Our American and European friends often request copies of Nigerian recipes. If not written down, the much-desired Nigerian recipes cannot be disseminatee and promulgated throughout the world. Thus, it is the hope that this book will contribute to providing a lasting archival repository of Nigerian recipes, just as other books before it have done.
Nigerian foods, particularly the soups, are usually spicy hot. Each family often has its own twists and turns to the process of achieving hotter and hotter meals. The common belief is that eating spicy foods is good for the heart and facilitates longevity. “Mild” is not normally in the vocabulary of Nigerian menu, except when dealing with our Western counterparts.
The diversity of thoughts, beliefs, and Nigerian kitchen practices lead to many different ways of preparing the same food. As such, many of the recipes in this book do present alternate approaches to preparing the same basic food. Please don’t be timid, experiment and enjoy!