Most of the ingredients used in this web site can be obtained in supermarkets
although some items may only be found in
African food shops. Where this is not available I have recommended
alternative ingredients that can be used to achieve almost the same
Afang / Ukazi leaves (gnetum African) Dark green Shiny foliage of the creeping afang plant cultivated
mostly in Calabar and Igbo land are used a great deal in the cooking
of these regions. It can be bought ready shredded from African food
Atama leaves / Beletientien
This is an annual Herb cultivated in the delta areas. It
smells and taste like tarragon; usually used fresh or dried in Banga
soup. Use dried leaves sparingly as flavor is more intense. Readily
available from African food stores.
Avocado (persea Americana) Tropical fruit with thick warty skin usually greenish or purplish
in color. The edible flesh inside surrounds a large oval shape seed.
It is light yellow and soft when ripe. Avocados can be eaten on its
own or cut in half and filled with cooked seafood (Avocado and prawn
Beans or Cowpeas Black-eye beans or Brown beans have become indispensable in Nigeria
cuisine because of it versatility in use. It requires overnight soaking
before use for dishes like Akara Moin-mom and Gbegiri soup.
Banana This is one of the most important food crops in Nigeria. Widely
eaten on it's own or in fruit salads they make a good substitute for
plantains. The leaves are usually used for wrapping foods such as
Anyan-Ekpang or Ebiripo for steaming. Baking foil or greased parchment
paper make adequate substitute but do not add the delicate flavour
that banana leaves give.
Bitterleaf A leafy green vegetable that is widely used in soups like Egusi
for its bitter but sweet flavor. The fresh leaves is prepared like
spinach and washed with salt; rubbing and squeezing to remove some
of the bitterness before use. Can be bought fresh or ready washed
Chilli Peppers Chilli peppers are the fruit of Capsicum Frutescens plant with
red orange or yellow pods which are very hot rich in Vitamin A &
C and widely used in Nigerian cooking. While the flavor in the chilli
lies in the flesh and skins much of the heat potency rests in the
seeds and veins which can be removed. Green chillies are a lot hotter
than the red ones. The active chemical con stituent is capiasin renowned
for stimulating digestive process and helping to relieve heat fatigue
in hot climates by inducing perspiration.
Breadfruit These are large green fruits which hang like lanterns from tress.
Only edible when cooked and taste like boiled potatoes. It could also
be fried as crisp.
Cassava (Manihot esculenta) Cassava is a tropical vegetable with a long tu berous root and
dull green palmate leaves. Mature tubers have brown mottled skin with
a white fibrous flesh. It can be cooked and eaten with coconut (Eberebe);
but mostly used for making Gad (Cassava grains) and Fufu. Used as
accompaniment to soups and stews. It can be bought ready made as gaff
or cassava flour (Fufu).
Cocoyam Cocoyams are similar to large potatoes usually with a fibrous
skin. In Nigeria the plant is grown for both it's tubers and leaves.
The young and tender leaves are used in preparing Ekpang Nkukwo (cocoa-yam
pottage). Spinach leaves make adequate substitute. These tubers can
also be boiled roasted or fried.
Corn / Maize Sweet corn or maize as it is commonly known is grown throughout
Nigeria as a food source. The plant grows to a height of about seven
When fully matured the swollen fruits are called cobs and it is these
which are picked and used for food. The cobs can be boiled roasted
or cooked with beans as a main course. A number of by products are
obtained from the grains including Ogi (corn-starch) and corn oil
which is low in saturates and cholesterol.
Crayfish Smoked dried prawns or shrimps used for flavoring soups and savory
dishes. Usually sold whole or grinded.
Egusi (cirullus colocynthis) melon seeds Seed of the African melon fruit used in preparing Egusi soup.
Should be grinded before use. Can be oily but adds a nutty flavor
to the soup.
Ewedu (corchorus olitorius) Shiny green leave vegetable rich in Vitamins A C & D. Use
in making sauces to accompany stews and enjoyed for its mucilaginous
or viscous properties. Sold fresh or dried.
Elubo Dried powdered yam flour for making amala (cooked yam flour pudding).
Fufu Fermented cassava dough usually served cooked to accompany soups.
Garden eggs (solanum melongena) Also knows as African eggplant a member of the aubergine family.
A round shiny green and yel low fruit with a slightly bitter taste.
Garden eggs are eaten raw as a fruit or diced and added to stews.
Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) Like a set of twins groundnut mature together in light coloured
shells which are flaky and easy to break. Grown profusely in Northern
Nigeria the seeds are harvested for their oil and protein. They can
be eaten raw boiled roasted and pureed for making groundnut soup.
Groundnut oil is used for cooking.
Iru (locust bean) parkia biglobosa Fermented locust or black beans. They have a slightly salty taste
and a pungent smell. They are used as seasoning in soups. Usually
sold fresh or dried packed
Kaun (Rock salt) potash Usually added to food especially pulses during cooking for faster
tenderisation and to increase the viscosity In Okro and Ewedu sauce.
Also used for emulsifying oil and water in some traditional soups.
Mango (mangifera indica) This kidney shaped fruit is pinkish or yellowish in colour. When
fully ripe it is lusciously sweet and succulent with the golden flesh.
Mango is common in fruit platters and salad.
Millet (pennisetum) Tiny yellow grains obtained from plant that looks like bull rushes
with a maize like stalk. Grows widely in Northern Nigeria and used
mostly for porridge and gruel.
Okro (lady fingers) These vegetables are curved seed pod up to 9 inches Long they
are usually eaten cooked in soup and salads.
Apon (ogbono Seed) This seeds are obtained from the nuts of the African mango bush
and air dried in the sun. It has a subtle aromatic flavor and it's
very mucilaginous when cooked. Can be bought whole or powdered.
Pawpaw (Carica papaya) This is a fruit of woody herbaceous plant that looks like a tree.
It is eaten ripe (yellow or orange in color) in fruit salads or stuffed
for starters or main course.
Plantain A large member of the banana family plantain is less sweet than
banana and is more versatile in use. It is often boiled toasted or
fried and served with meat stews because the tissue has a starchy
taste than sweet banana. It is best cooked with plenty of spices onions
tomatoes and peppers (plantain pottage).
Ugwu (Pumpkin leaves) telfairi occidentallis These trailing green leaves of the pumpkin plant rich in minerals
and vitamins. Use in various soup preparations It is the chief ingredient
in cooking Edikang Ikong soup. Fresh spinach can be used as substitute
in any recipe if not available. Pumpkin seeds can also be eaten.
Utazi leaves (crongromena ratifolia) This is a bitter tasting pale green leaf usually used for flavouring
pepper soup. Very sparingly used. It can also be used as a substitute
for bitter leaves.
Uzouza leaves or Ikong Etinkinrin This sweet smelling aromatic and spicy pale green leaf vegetable
is also used for flavoring soups especially (Ibaba soup).
Yam (Dioscorea sp) The plant grows as a vine to height of six to eight feet. The
edible tubers comes in various shapes and sizes; usually dark brown
in color and hairy to the touch. The flesh is white or yellow and
when cooked it has a pleasant flavor when cooked rather like potato.
It is harvested in dry season with a gig feast known as Yam Festival
in Igbo land. Yam still forms the staple diet of a large number of
people in Nigeria. It is cooked in different ways including boiled
roasted and fried. When pounded it is served as accompaniment to soups
Sorghum Also known as guinea corn sorghum is cultivated mainly in Northern
Nigeria. Used for porridge or pap (gruel).
Snail These are large forest creatures covered with a hard shell. Taste
rubbery when overcooked it is rather an acquired taste.
Oils From a health stand point fats and oils are either saturated
or unsaturated. Saturated oils such as butter coconut and palm oil
are known to in crease the amount of cholesterol carried in the blood
but since regional cuisine is characterized by the type of oil used
lesser quantities or half the amount in a given recipe could always
Groundnut oil This is used for frying and also added to stews and other savory
dishes. It has a pleasant and unobtrusive taste; favorable in making
mayonnaise and could be heated to a high temperature without burning.
Corn oil This oil pressed from the germ of germ of maize (corn) is high
in poly unsaturated and low in cholesterol. It is used the same way
as groundnut oil. It can also be heated to a high temperature without
Palm oil This rather tasty and nutty thick and waxy rustic red colored
oil is extracted from the flesh of the oil-palm nut fruits. It is
widely used in Nigerian cooking especially in the traditional soups
and stews for color and taste but usually in small quantity as it
is high in
Water leaf (talilum triangulare) This is the most widely used of all green leaf vegetables. It
is rich in iron calcium and vitamin A and C and it is best eaten lightly
cooked in soups and stews. spinach can be used in recipes calling
Kuka leaves Leaves of the baobab tree usually sold dried in powder form and
used for Kuka soup.
IGBO (garden egg leaves) solanum manocarpum The young leaves of the garden egg plant. African Aubergines
can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in stews.
Soko (celosia argentea) This green leaf vegetable is much preferred in the making of
Efo-riro. It taste like spinach.
Tete (celosia viddis) This green is a close relative to Soko and is used interchangeable
or in combination with it. It is widely grown in Western Nigeria.