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Celebrating Nigeria on Democracy Day! Let Us Bask in the Richness of Nigerian Food

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I’ll like to start by writing this warning. NIGERIAN FOODIE PEEVE ALERT! Readers Beware. I am Nigerian, born and bred. I grew up with great cooks, and I grew up eating Nigerian food all my life. Nigerian food is incredibly rich and robust and it is quite sad, that we are not proud of our food the way Indians, Mexicans, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Spanish, French, Caribbean and Italians are.

Beyond the shores of Nigeria, no one knows about our food except us, and people who have come in direct contact with us through friendship and marriage. In major cities and smaller towns all over the world, you will find the food of some (if not all) of the people I just listed. Nigerians are one of the most migratory people in the world, and our food doesn’t speak for our immense presence globally.

Quite a number of people lose their food identity when they live abroad, and some are too quick to adopt the food of the area they live, in my opinion. I understand that Nigerian food is not readily available in some areas, but has anyone wondered how come the food of lets say the Indians and Chinese are ? They are proud of their food, they carry it everywhere they go, they set up shops in their locales, they set up takeaways. Is that more of a business thing than a cultural thing? Maybe a mixture of both, I’m not sure. Even in the remote areas of some parts of the world, you will find at least one Chinese takeaway.

I’ve had a few friends over for dinner who tell me, “Dunni, you’ve made my year. I haven’t had Egusi soup in ages.” Shockingly, some of them live in London, where you can find everything plus the local wooden spoon. I also get pained when my fellow Nigerians condemn our food during healthy eating debates. Nigerian food is fattening, its all carbs, it is too oily, it is this, and that. Personally I disagree. Modify your cooking style, control your portion sizes, cut down on the size of meat served per meal, eat more vegetables, cut down on the oil, above all exercise. You’ve been average sized almost all your life, then you get an office job, you develop a sedentary lifestyle, years after Nigerian food suddenly becomes “fattening”.  You’ve been average sized almost all your life and in a few years of relocating abroad you gain weight and suddenly start pointing fingers at Nigerian food. I’m no nutrition expert, but I’ll loudly and proudly defend Nigerian food any day. It is not the food per se, it is lifestyle changes that may need to be made to make your body as efficient as it used to be. Hey, I may be wrong. Hands up, don’t shoot me.

We probably all grew up with spicy food, but the palate of some has evolved to no longer tolerate spicy food. Some children born to Nigerian parents may not even know that much about Nigerian food or how to prepare it (true stories). I was cooking Ogbono soup at a family members house one day and his 12 year old daughter (100% Nigerian parentage) asked me “Aunty what is that?” I was shocked to say the least. I’m not sure this will apply to Indian or Chinese children living abroad. I have seen an Indian colleague eating a curry at his desk. As unpleasant as the odour was in an air conditioned room for that matter, he didn’t get up from his desk till he was done, and no one complained. You won’t find many  Nigerians doing that. They would rather take the food down to the cafeteria (personal observation) or eat a less “offensive” meal life Jollof rice or rice and stew at their desk. Being the foodie that I am, I can unashamedly say, I’ve taken Yam and Egusi (filled with iru, crayfish, stockfish, dried fish) to work and eaten it at my desk. My colleagues, turned up their noses and kept commenting about the aroma but as no one dared ask me to leave, I sat at my desk and finished my lunch. I have eaten Aya Mase (Green bell pepper stew with Iru and Crayfish) with rice at work before, Beans full of crayfish and dried fish and fried plantain. Surprisingly, I have been berated by some Nigerian colleagues, and some have even told me, I must be very bold, weren’t my colleagues complaining? I told them – not to my hearing. I draw the line at Eba, Semo, Okra and Ewedu though, as I would have to eat with my hands and that is not professional.

Americans are hung up on Chinese food. The British love Indian food.I know their historical ties are responsible, but Nigerians have been living abroad for a long time too. Maybe if people who emigrated before me embraced their Nigerian food, and took it global, who knows, we probably would have Nigerian takeaways on every corner, (just as you probably have Nigerians living or working on every corner) not just in select restaurants or food joints. Funny thing is, in a short while, my colleagues stopped noticing and they even took an interest in my packed lunch and asked me many questions about Nigerian food. I have recently won my boss over with Chin- Chin. She absolutely loves it and I don’t know, but it just may have improved our relationship.

I will be discussing with the Events Department to organise an International Food day, just so I can sneakily introduce my 3000 strong staff members to Nigerian food and food from other parts of the world of course. There is a noticeable Nigerian presence at my place of work, so I hope I will get some support and I implore your Bella Naija readers to do the same if you can.

We are known for some not so nice things, let us also be known for our great food. What is the point behind this post? With the teeming population of Nigerians abroad, I think we should have takeaways by now, we should have introduced the people of our adopted countries to our food. We are doing well professionally all over the world, raising the bar, and making our people proud. Most of us grew up with amazing cooking heroines from 2nd and 3rd generations, family recipes etc. So when you hear celebrity chefs talk about things they learnt from their mothers, aunties, grandmothers I can relate and so can many of us. Atoke’s post about grandparentreceived a lot of comments regarding food and cooking. We have a lot to offer food wise. A lot. Our food is no less great than the Indians, Chinese, or even the Great French food. It is all about packaging and presentation.

You watch cooking channels, and you have shows dedicated to all the food from the cultures I listed above. The only African feature I have seen is Moroccan, and their food tends towards Middle Eastern cuisine, so I still say African food is still not being represented, and maybe just maybe, we let it happen. One of the celebrity chefs in England Reza Mahammed is of Indian origin. He presents a show on Food Network called Spice Price of India. He is such a funny character. I tuned into Food Network one evening and I saw another show of his “Rezza’s African Kitchen”. The tag line of of the show is “Join Rezza to learn the secrets of the African Kitchen”. I was shocked, then it slowly turned to irritation and then annoyance. Yes it is great that African food gets some airtime, but presented by a chef of Indian origin, traveling through Africa and showing the world our food? SERIOUSLY! The execs couldn’t find an African chef? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some African Activist, but I just felt bad. I later shrugged it off and said, “really Dunni what did you expect?” Who knows Africans and food? So I’m back to the issue of we have a massive presence, but food wise, we are still puns in the global food industry. I really can’t blame The Food Network. They are in the business of television. I was happy to watch the pilot of Afropolitan. Hopefully, we have started our journey.

Don’t get me wrong, I also cook foreign dishes. On my blog, I have written about recipes of foreign origin but with a Nigerian twist and I intend to explore more. The world is global, and through our experience of food, it must reflect it. At the same time, lets also carry the identity of our food into foreign dishes that we prepare. I was in Lagos and Abuja last year, and I was quite pleased to see a new crop of fancy restaurants. The kind of swanky places you’ll find in New York, Paris and London. My joy quickly turned to annoyance when I noticed that a large portion of their menu was of foreign origin. I kept asking my friends, what is going on? Have I been away for too long? I am in a restaurant in Lagos, I shouldn’t have to be perplexed about the menu. I am in my country, my food haven. I was told, Ah, Dunni, “na so we see am o”. “Nigerian food has been relegated to Buka’s and Mama put, or a casual mention on the menu list”. “Dignified big boys and girls eat A la carte”. “Our food is not tush oh”. “How do you expect MD so so to be eating Egusi or Efo riro in public”? It is great we are also becoming connoisseurs of foreign food, but to relegate our own food to the background on the journey to getting there? Someone please explain to me why?

I have always wanted to do something with Nigerian food outside the kitchen of my home, and starting my blog Dooney’s Kitchen, I hope is the beginning of that journey. I must say, I am very pleased with the responses I have gotten from you Bella Naija readers on my BN Cuisine posts and it has given me the boost I needed to take this head on. So as I have gotten us talking about Nigerian food on one of the most popular media exports from Nigeria, I hope I will also challenge you to take Nigerian food beyond your homes and represent. Who will be joining me? I you want to talk about food that you love, or you love preparing and you have recipes you’ll like to get out there, and talk about. Bella Naija has a tight schedule so, I humbly submit myself as the medium to let us do so. We have the numbers, lets get talking.
Watch out world, Nigerian cooking shows on Food Network with globally sold recipe books will be coming to you soon.

Photo Credit: littlemissgastronome.blogspot.com

I'm an IT Project Manager by day and a cook the rest of the time. I love entertaining, and one of my bad habits is feeding people, so guests beware. When I'm not cooking, I'm watching Food Network, American TV series and National Geographic in that order. When I want peace and quiet, I curl up on the sofa and read a good book I'm very passionate about Nigerian food. I believe our food has a lot to offer globally, and with the right exposure, it can stand proud alongside food from other cultures. I'm hoping to get us all fired up and talking about Nigerian cooking irrespective of whatever part of the world you live in. Welcome to Dooney's Kitchen

74 Comments

  1. Dearie

    May 29, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Dear Dunni, just one favor – do not say no. Just till me how to cook that sumptuous ‘efo elegusi’ on the post (in the picture). I’ll get it done today – pretty down with what I think is malaria – been craving really odd meals. Thanks.

    Nah! I’m not preggys!

  2. Dunni O

    May 29, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Hey Dearie, I did not cook that, but by looking at it I can see spinach leaves (the light green ones) and bitter leaf (the dark green veggies). To cause egusi to clump like that you have to mix the powdered egusi with blended onions to form a very thick paste which you scoop it into balls with a spoon and then fry in the palm oil for a few minutes. Then add your blended pepper, beef stock and a little water and let it cook. Do Not stir until the mixture has fried properly, then you can break apart the clumps gently with a spoon, add your boiled meats, veggies, shake the pot around, lower the heat and let it cook. I have a recipe for seafood egusi on the blog – dooneyskitchen.com. I hope that helps with your craving. Big hugs if you are having malaria – P.S cook the egusi soup with lots of Ata Rodo (scotch bonnet/habanero pepper). As from being preggers. *cough, *cough. Pee on a stick girl. Lol………

    • Nalongo

      May 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Another way to get egusi to clump like that is for you to mix the dry ground egusi in water , make sure it forms a thick paste, add finely chopped onions and ground iru/dawadawa/ogili okpei and cook it till it dries out. Note that you have to keep on turning it or it will burn. After cooking, break it up into the stock and proceed as instructed.

    • Dunni Obata

      May 29, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      Wow, Thanks for this new tip

  3. Mz Socially Awkward...

    May 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Dunni, iz lie, quite a number of us have clung even more tightly to our cultural food identity since leaving the shores of Nigeria.

    I always tell people that if a few days pass by and I don’t “swallow”, I just might fall ill. My cooking skills expanded ever since I started living here, pro’ly because mumsie and her chefs are no longer available to prepare my daily meals (haha). But I took on my ethnic cooking with gusto – in fact, more gusto than my oyinbo flatmate at Uni could cope with and one day I caught her spraying airfreshner in our communal kitchen. If you see quarrel! Na im I warn her say make she no ever try am again, wetin she think say I dey cook wey dey pass dem kippers and Arbroath smoked fish? D babe come begin keep malice with me from that point onwards until we both graduated (although, looking back now, I feel her pain because the smell of stockfish is not for the un-initiated).

    Anyway, back to my opening point. I learnt to cook a lot of things here that I never bothered to learn when I was in Naija – mainly Nkowbi (I’m a specialist in that area now… although, I shouldn’t probably admit that as I still dey owe you Ofe Nsala), Isi-Ewu, giz-dodo, obono soup, Rivers style bole & fish, etc. These were delicacies I could have walked into a joint and satisfied myself with when I was in Nigeria but, omo, na for this jand wey all man go begin dig deep to discover any hidden skills.

    And the way I dey chop pepper now, ehn! Even my mama (the very respected pepper mistress herself) don begin fear me. If I go chinese restaurant, I no dey touch anything until dem bring that their fried pepper come. When I dey carry food go work (and I stay making delicious stews to pair with something-or-the-other for work meals, as I can’t comprehend this national love of sandwiches for lunch), woe unto any oyinbo wey dey eye my food, wan come satisfy dem curiousity by tasting am. One girl been try am and tears just started flowing freely (after I warned her). So ….. in summary, happy democracy day to you too and props to you and all other foodies who stay promoting the amazing legacy of Naija cuisine. Although… e go hard to convince many oyinbo people about the delicious properties of stocked fish, sha… 🙂

    • P.

      May 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      You’re too funny!

    • Bleed blue

      May 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Honestly! I have also developed a very deep appreciation for Naija meals and cook them at every opportunity.

      Steak and chips dey tire somebody…Mz Socially Awkward you know na… 🙂

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      May 29, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Yes oh! Ain’t nothing wrong with mixing it up and making a nice homemade spicy curry stew for your chips and basting that steak for pairing with jollof rice 😉

    • Sophie

      May 29, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      Bbes, this is just like me… I eat pepper now ehen..And I wasn’t like that until I got here. I cook my naija food o. One time, I was cooking with my Chinese flat mate and her friends. They cooked their food and I didn’t complain o. When I now started heating my palm oil and frying the ata rodo, they started complaining about how spicy the thing was. Even though I apologized o, see them abusing me in theirlanguage. Mehn, I just ignored them and continued cooking. I didn’t even cook in Nigeria as much as I cook here. And anytime I go back to 9ja, I pack my Ogbonno powder, Cameroon pepper, ground egusi, Knorr cubes and my darling Onga powder. The Maggie cubes in this country is horrible mehn! .

    • olusola

      May 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      u forgot to pack on locust beans (iru). pls dont send nobody joor. keep repn the naija food u got

    • whocares

      May 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm

      lmaooooooo. so truuuue. I love Nigerian foods now more than ever.. still dont like eba etc but thats cos i HATE poundo yam, or wheat but as for the rest, I am a disaster in the kitchen but man i slave my ass off all the same for my naija cuisine. I have never appreciated them more, and whenever one of my family members tells me they have cooked efo or some other type of soup or nigerian delicacy.. they know im coming to visit the next day with my very lovely takeaway bowl #inofitshout

    • noni

      May 30, 2013 at 6:54 am

      lol!! your post made me laugh ! i agree though living abroad makes me treasure naija food all the more

      lol ‘ your uni flat mate!!!

  4. Ore

    May 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I also agree with the previous comments. I live abroad and trust me, I HAVN’T FORGOTTEN NIGERIAN FOOD. I don’t think I ever can. A lot of us here, can’t. The problem is many of the people, especially girls, leaving home cannot cook! I’m not saying that only girls should learn to cook(before these oversabi feminists come and attack me), especially if they don’t like it. However, learning to cook is not only a good skill but is highly economical as well.

    I was really shocked when I got here, to find a lot of my friends could not cook. I thought it was a normal thing for parents to teach their children from a young age. It’s those people, who do not eat or introduce other nationalities to our food.

    That being said, there are a lot of Nigerian restaurants springing up where I am and trust me, Nigerians take all their friends there. The only negative thing is the decor and presentation of the restaurant and food respectively (but that’s a discussion for another day). In addition, African stores are springing up everywhere in Canada as well. Why are they coming up if people are not patronizing them? Other nationalities, including Nigerians, will not come by because the size of these stores are too small and sometimes they charge ridiculous prices for something that can be bought at a Chinese grocery store at a cheaper rate, more variety and space.

    The truth is, most cultures try other types of food based on the location, decor and presentation from the restaurants and Nigerian restaurants fail there.

    • Dunni O

      May 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks guys. It is actually good to read that people are embracing our cuisine because my personal experience is not so great with other Nigerians. @natty a colleague once chastised me for eating Yam and Egusi at my desk because of the smell. I told him I didnt remember him going to our Asian colleague the day before to talk smack. He did not respond. I proverbially “flipped my weave” and walked away. Ore, about the cooking issue you don’t even want me to start with that one. I have been getting requests about cooking classes, which I have organised in the past so I may as well pick it up again and announce it now. Dooney’s Kitchen is now expanding to offering cooking classes. So, if you are interested please email me: [email protected]

    • Bunmi

      May 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      That’s what we do best. We are unashamedly shipping our jaga jaga lifestyle overseas. The so called top nigerian restaurant is an embarrassment. It looks like a buka or a low class chinese restaurant and the workers are rude as phuck! They are some overweight women, i think jamaican and Nigerian (i haven’t been there in a while), who are naturally friendly to men and nice to younger females who call them aunty. lollll. But Nigerians do not care. they do not motivate the owner to put in more effort. Business owners listen when customers complain or give their opinions because they(customers) put food on their table. Even ethiopians & kenyans have better looking restaurants in this city and they draw different types of nationalities. My friends & I took a Canadian friend to this Nigerian restaurant (of course they are all located in the low income areas, the owners are very comfortable with that and probably do not care for expansion unless they see the success of a smart Nigerian who sets up his/her restaurant in a better area) and I was ashamed. People already assume that Africans are uncivilised, poor, dirty, unprofessional etc and to have a foreigner see all of these at once was embarrassing. I am constantly trying to promote the good in our country but the people who have been given the position to represent us well do not care. Another thing i find interesting is that Nigerians here think they are better than the one at home The only few differences is that they are minorities, are used to seeing constant power and water, good roads, etc. Put the “better” Nigerians in a room and there’s no difference btw them and what I see when I go home. Some haven’t even been to Nigeria in so many years and they think they are ahead meanwhile they are so behind and lost.

  5. Dunni O

    May 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    OMG, I laughed so much. I don’t know how long I will tell them I have a cough. Lol……… Glad to see someone whose 9ja food experience has matured. Nkwobi and Isi- Ewu – guuuuuuuurrrrrrl, you owe me more than Ofe Nsala. I am going to create a page on the blog dedicated for recipes from readers. So I am waiting o, and I will hound you well well. Still laughing and coughing. This girl will not kill me

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      May 29, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      Nne, I gats to do what I can to stay connected to those good eats 🙂 And the day I found one woman here that sells goat head, I danced azonto. Granted, it doesn’t have that strong distinctive taste our local goats have back home but it does okay for itself and, more importantly, creates the ability to make isi-ewu. I shall do my best to provide you with a narrative recipe + photos whenever next I prepare that dish.

    • Dunni O

      May 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      O baby geh, I am waiting patiently for your recipe. Goat head is very common at the halal butchers in South East London and I have always eyed it and walked away. Please send me your recipe and change my mind. @Ij with the dalston comment. Big hugs from here. I have been looking for Soko vegetables to make Efo Riro. I will try Dalston.

  6. Dearie

    May 29, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks Dunni. Lol @ pee on a stick. Just go away!
    PS: I’ve bookmarked your website 🙂

  7. Banke

    May 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    It’s funny that as I read this article, I have beside me a bowl of garri (that I will be making eba with)and ila alasepo (with smoked fish)that I will be having for lunch and I intend as always not to eat Nigerian food at my desk like my other Nigerian colleagues do. Would love to stink up the whole place just like my Chinese and Indian colleagues do. I always thought it’d be nice to have a Nigerian chef have a show on the food network. I am a big fan of your food blog hDunni, keep it up.

  8. scorpio

    May 29, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    walai Dunni, I already brought out a pen and paper to steal recipes like I usually do and all na paragraph! chei!!!!….e pain me o, if dem nor wan embrace naija food, na dem sabi..I love my cultural food…thanks to you, I can now boldly cook my traditional groundnut soup for my Yoruba hubby…Good writeup though

    • Dunni O

      May 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      Lol. I decided let us just talk about food today. Don’t worry, I am coming up with a recipe to post soon. I hope the Groundnut soup turns out great

  9. Toyo

    May 29, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    lovely.

    thoughtsbytoyosi.wordpress.com/

  10. natty

    May 29, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I eat Nigerian food everyday! if its not Nigerian food nothing else apart from those rare occasions when I indulge in chicken and chips. I remember once i was eating my beans jejely, when a Nigerian colleague came up to me, looking bewildered ” You are eating beans! ” Like it was a crime to eat beans, I told him to bring cutlery and come and join me and see what he was missing. nonsense!! All these people that will cross borders and forget their Nigerian heritage. Abeg oh! who knows where i can find periwinkle 🙂 ?

    • natty

      May 29, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Perieinkles in England please ?

    • ij

      May 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Dalston market , bus 67

    • Its an anonymous comment!

      May 29, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Lmaaaao the comments on this post are killing me but this dalston bus 67 was it. The reply is badt, location was not enough, bus number was specified aswell. My dear thank u, im goin to raid that Dalston market lol

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      May 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm

      @Natty, beans!! It’s up there with my top 3 fave foods and you just reminded me of what happened to me at lunch yesterday. We sometimes hit up a cafe for lunch together in the team, as a nice thing to do now and again so yesterday we were at this place where I ordered the chilli. And, my goodness, what a dish gone wrong. I’ve never actually ordered chilli in restaurants (because when I eat out, I prefer to order anything I wouldn’t normally cook myself) and I never will again.

      It was just not the same and yes, I know it’s not meant to be a Nigerian dish but I couldn’t help comparing it against the goodness of a well-cooked plate of Naija beans. Nna, leave matter, we get food oh, plenty. And I don’t want to come off sounding like one of those Nigerians who goes to restaurants/weddings/oyinbo people’s homes and scorns the dishes on offer because there’s no fried rice with chicken on offer but, dang, at the very least whatever’s on my plate has to be “sweet”.

      Nigerians, we have good food recipes for daysssss.

    • Dunni O

      May 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      You see the matter of that chilli ehn. It was vex that made me try it out for myself after two unfortunate incidents at restaurants. It is just like our beans but with meat and some extra ingredients. I have a post up on the blog about Texas chilli but it is still showing as coming soon. I will upload the recipe this evening, now that someone has mentioned it. Thanks

    • Bleed blue

      May 29, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Lol Mz Socially Awkward…I’ve seen someone that appreciates the beaurry and fantabulousity of Naija food more than me.

      I feel your pain sha…All I can say is when it comes to eating out and expecting some betta taste, we have to thank God for Nando’s; otherwise you go home and face your pot

    • Mariaah

      May 29, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      Hi natty take a bus to dalston market drop off at exactly “Dalston Kingsland station”. Walk inside the main open market (you will see a Paks hair shop as you approach the place). I think the first sea-food shop is where u can get peri-winkles..

      LOL.. I hope things are still the way there were in that area, memories.. 🙂 PS, it bus 67, but it could be 149, 276, 76, 242, blabla…

  11. Naija latest news and happenings

    May 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    one of the things that made me extremely naija is my love for Nigerian foods. i wonder what it will be like not eating a Nigerian food prepared at home for one week. it is fuuny to see some people forming what i don’t know in front of a food they will readily attack with all seriousness at home just because they are outside their home. Yes be gentlemanly and modern when eating outside but, abeg no dey form!

  12. atukpa

    May 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Dunni…. You Rock!!!.
    I made ofada 2 days back, not my 1st attempt. But this time it was on point.
    I woke up and i think hubby ate it with bread before work…. don’t know how that combo worked for him. But i guess he really enjoyed it since he has eaten it 3 days in a row.
    moi-moi and ijebu garri is my fav meal to take to work. Its pretty to look at, arouses everyones’ curiousity and doesn’t have a nasty smell.
    I enjoy my 9ja food, but honestly some smells are just offensive like my stockfish…. Not fair on others in the work place.

    • Dunni O

      May 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      Yay for you about the Ofada sauce. When it is prepared properly, it is a common phenomenon for people to eat ofada sauce till they see the bottom of the pot or the plastic bowl. So your hubby is not out of order at all. lol. I can eat ofada sauce and drink garri at the same time. That is my Ijebu blood talking. Lol…… About the stockfish, errrr it is jsut as fair as curry. Lol

  13. Aisha

    May 29, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    I take fried yam with egusi and iru to work a lot and I have had a curious girl at work walk into my office to ask me what kind of food I was eating and if she could have a bite! Anyway, she loved it and asked for the recipe, which I gave her and also where to find the ingredients.

    I keep saying it too that Nigerian restaurants here lack the ambiance to attract other nationalities to try our food. Is it the rude customer service or the manner in which the food is served? Meanwhile, go to the Asian restaurants and you will be sure to see Nigerians there.

    I believe we have the capacity to rep our food in the international scene. We just have to believe it and work towards it.

    Dunni, please do let me know when you have the section where your readers can post what they make. I would love to post some stuff!

    • Dunni O

      May 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      Hi Aisha, my fellow kindred spirit with Yam and Egusi soup. My friends think it is a strange combination. My response to them is, you eat Pounded Yam and Egusi don’t you? I will create a category on the blog called Foodie Community recipes, so please feel free to send in your recipes to [email protected] and I will post it on the blog and reference your name or an alias whichever you prefer. This applies to everyone. If you want to share your recipes, please send me an email and attach pictures. Thanks in advance

  14. Aisha

    May 29, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Do let us know, I meant!

  15. Azb

    May 29, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    I was in an African restaurant in DC and me and my other Nigerian friend were the only Africans (by complexion – lol – you never know these days) in the restaurant. I meet random people when I introduce myself as Nigerian, they mention Jollof rice and the proverbial fufu with some type of soup. Yes, Chinese food is popular but other food like Indian and Thai are patronized by a selective cult of foodies. Let’s not forget that China and India have over $1B population, so of course their cuisine will be widely spread and widely available. As for me, I carry my Nigerian lunches to work and never saw anything wrong with it. I don’t eat my American lunch at my desk so why would I eat my Nigerian lunch at my desk? To prove what point?

  16. Preye

    May 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I have the same reaction when I go to Lagos or Abuja restaurants. My friends know to take me to “Ghana High Commission” mama put and am in heaven. However in Port Harcourt the resturant culture is different, you walk into any resturant in Port Harcourt and you are almost certain to find “Native Soup” & or “Starch & Banga Soup” .

  17. JRS

    May 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I’m very inspired and i’ve pinged you an email straight away – those classes i have to do by force by fire. All this talk about food is making me salivate at my desk! I’m a decent cook but for some reason Jollof & Ofada stew do not like me i’ve tried! Instead i’ve resorted to LOLAK restaurant in peckham for all my 9ja food cravings – that woman’s abula or fried fish iz na die tins! I can’t wait to attend ur classes and peoples if u can’t find it in dalston I can assure u whatever you are looking for is on Rye lane in Peckham – Peckham is king! 🙂

  18. magh

    May 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    hmmm you will have to convince me weeeelllll that our swallows do not lead to weight gain. I cut down on my regular semo, yam flour and starch and my fat fell off :). When I was in second year, my 2 housemates (an asian and a german guy) used to eat my yam flour and egusi wellll .with hand oo..it was funny at first watching them eat. the Asian guy learned how to make my stew because he loved it with rice. I love our Nigerian food that sometimes, even with my “healthy” lifestyle , if I feel like having swallows I just blend oat and prepare like eba, and make okra and stew. Nothing beats our food but I got to watch my waistline.

  19. jcsgrl

    May 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Wow! good for you guys that can carry soup and fufu to work. For me I can’t, I just can’t. I no get liver abeg! Rice, stew, beans, moi moi but ofe, chai not yet o!
    Chai Ms Socially Awkward, I could use isi ewu right about now wash am with cold Smirnoff…

  20. Naija Vix.

    May 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    love love love this post. All my friends know me for cooking Naija food and I enjoy reading and watching other people that love to cook our native food !

  21. Purpleicious Babe

    May 29, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    I didn’t finish reading the article….lack of patience. lol. But I got the gist
    . I think disagree with some of the points mentioned e.g. why niaja food aint popular etc etc. Cut long story short, Naiaja food is popular in South East London..lol. More African takeaway around that area boi.

    I also think its about packaging and creativity, if we got creative with our food and market it more that would make a difference.

    I certainly haven’t forgotten niaja food after donkeys of years living abroad.. thanks to Peckham… The Lagos in London..lol.

    We just need more Niaja chefs noni to do their thing. Can I just say the most Chinese and Indian chefs are MALE….Maybe we need more Niaja dudes that can cook and work the kitchen…

    • Dunni Obata

      May 29, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      “Nigerian food is incredibly rich and robust and it is quite sad, that we are not proud of our food the way Indians, Mexicans, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Spanish, French, Caribbean and Italians are.
      Beyond the shores of Nigeria, no one knows about our food except us, and people who have come in direct contact with us through friendship and marriage. In major cities and smaller towns all over the world, you will find the food of some (if not all) of the people I just listed. Nigerians are one of the most migratory people in the world, and our food doesn’t speak for our immense presence globally.” – I believe these sentences sum up what I was referring to as not being proud of our food. Yes there are many restaurants in SE London and markets, I just wish there were more and they weren’t just patronised by us and those who have come in contact with us by friendship, family or marriage. I want our food to explode if I can use that word to the community of our adopted countries, even if you were born there too your heritage is Nigerian. I want my children to be able to eat their lunch at their desks when they are having a hectic day, or cook their 9ja food in the communal kitchen at University without anyone turning their noses up because we their mummys, daddys, aunties and uncles of this generation have paved the way for them to be able to do that by being proud and open with our food. Our food should not just circulate amongst us and with an increasing number of people not even cooking it at all due to one reason or another, it may even become more regulated to the background. We have numerical strength on our side we can Go Further. Creativity, Packaging, Marketing, gbobgo e. I mean, North African food is African too nah and it is widely known globally. I ordered a Tagine pot from M and S recently. Do you know how amazing it will be, if one day you I can also order those our authentic clay pots from M and S. Those clay pots do wonders for our soups. Tagine pot o, our local clay pot o, I swear there is no difference. Both are made from Terracotta but one has been packaged better to appeal to everyone on a global scale. You don’t have to be Middle Eastern to cook a Lamb Tagine, which is also time consuming. Watch out people for Dooney’s Kitchen brand of local Kitchen utensils in the nearest future. Lol. I can package “igbako” well and it will sell in M and S. *wink, *wink.

    • Titi

      May 30, 2013 at 7:52 am

      So you want people to plaster fufu on their forehead to prove they are proud nigerian food? Fact is a lot of NIgerian dishes are not so healthy in the true form that they are prepared. I have learn to modify them to be more healthy. I cook beans porridge with a little vegetable or olive oil and spinach, okra with barely there palm oil and a lot of fish and eat it wih any starches. I make my own dry fish in the oven with white fish or red snapper etc. enjoy your Naija food but please watch your heart!

    • Dunni O

      May 30, 2013 at 9:06 am

      Hi Titi, if you go back t the article, you will see where I said we should modify how wwe prepare it and the volume that we consume

  22. Es

    May 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    For Ghanaian, Nigerian and loads of West African Dishes, check out http://www.essiespice.com. Easy to follow recipes, mind blowing pictures and variety of dishes. Site is updated monthly so check in for more recipes regularly.

  23. Tunmi

    May 29, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    I don’t know which kin Naija people una know but I have yet to meet a Nigerian who does not eat Naija food, na abomination na im be dat. I’m a student so I’m always on a budget but once the semester is over, I cook. The thing is Naija food is a labor of love, and it takes time, time I don’t always have. But yes, I eat my Naija food. I really wish there were more Nigerian restaurants, even carryout sef. And that is where I miss Naija. I miss the food hawkers on every corner. Sometimes I’m in the mood for Amala, gbegiri and ewedu but that kin combo…hmm…na work o.

  24. OmoMakun

    May 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Dunni….I just love your honesty. I feel the same way you feel. I live in the US and trust me….I have eaten garri and epa at my desk, iyan and wholesome egusi, eba and korrect ogbono, tantalizing asaro, yam and mouth-watering-stew and the list goes on. I have no shame in it, some ppl will be like what is that smell….I just ignore them. Some of my co-workers eat out of my lunch whenever i bring Naija food. SOmetimes I even pack their own seperate. Will i now say that because i live here I will now be eating macaroni and cheese, pizza and all the mede-mede they have on a daily basis? Heck no! I love my Naija food…Shikena! Keep doing your thing Dunnie….We will support the movement….#NaijaFoodie!

    • Dunni Obata

      May 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      Yes oooooo. Thanks for being a strong member of the movement

  25. Nawa OOO

    May 29, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    i think Nigerians are proud of their food. you should see them rushing YAM at AFRICAN MARKETS. now oyinbo people have not found a way to commercialize Nigerian and african food that is why you dont find it in restaurants like chinese food. the asian food we eat in europe and america is not real asian. it has been commercialized

    • Dunni Obata

      May 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      We don’t need oyinbo people to come to our rescue and commercialise our own food. I believe we can do that by ourselves. Like other people have commented, we just don’t put that much effort into our restaurants. Close your eyes and you will believe that you never left Lagos. The service, the rudeness, the attitude the everything, and they expect you to just accept it like that and not complain because you are a fellow Nigerian. If we want to take our food far, the many restaurants we have now is a good place to start in my opinion sha o. Let me go into one where the food is plated professionally for a start, and the service is excellent, then we can get somewhere.

    • Nawa OOO

      May 30, 2013 at 5:05 am

      Excuse me please did i say that oyinbo people should come and rescue our food? mchew the fact is it is because Europeans have commercialized Asian and other foods that is why it seems popular. if you are in california almost all the Mexican Restaurants are white owned its that is the principal reason they are popular. As i said earlier those foods are not even authentic Mexican or Asian. i never said africans need whites to rescue our food. the fact that you would try to deduce that i said (whites need to rescue our food) from my statement would be a cheap argument on your part.

    • Dunni O

      May 30, 2013 at 9:11 am

      “now oyinbo people have not found a way to commercialize Nigerian and african food that is why you dont find it in restaurants like chinese food.” Errrrrrrrr. Lol. No need to be aggressive or rude. We can agree to disagree. So far, we have all “spoken” abi written cordially and shared our views and it has been fun to read. Walking away ………

    • Nawa OOO

      May 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      i think you are reading what you want to read. its the way you have chosen to interpret what i have said. i still dont see how me saying oyinbo people have not found a way to commercialize our food ( which means rubbing us of our cultural recipes which is BAD) turned into me wanting oyinbo people to rescue our food. the fact is nigerians are proud of their food. its ok to agree to disagree about what i said. but your first point of Nigerians not being proud of their food is INVALID and not based on facts. Thanks have a wonderful day

  26. ms sexy

    May 29, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    i think Nigerians abroad dont joke wt home food o
    we’ll fall sick now
    its not possible
    once i come around i pack all my necessities, i dont cook wt any other seasoning apart from..
    and i make sure i pack for a year, panla is expensive here and i love it so i pack as well
    i just bought pounded yam machine now so pounded yam felefele ni in cold weather for me, when am tired of pounded yam, i toss my boiled unripe plantain and voila i get pounded plaintain wt efo riro to bad
    jollof-fried-pottage is what i do well
    the nkwobi & co i cant but i love to wack them so I pay to get them @ a local joint, that boy can cook as per ibo boy he’s good man
    Dunni thanks jare

    • Dunni Obata

      May 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      Plantains, really? Dancing azonto. You see why I wrote this piece? It got us all talking about Nigerian food, which was the point in the first place. We have been able to share recipes, talk about what we cook best and even share shopping destinations (dalston, peckham). I am very very pleased. Bella Naija’s First Foodie Town Hall Meeting. Lol

  27. Iretidayo

    May 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I doubt that any Nigerian living abroad is ashamed of Nigerian food,I am yet to meet one,infact,most of the ones I am surrounded with are snubbish about foriegn food so that info you gave is not acurate at all.
    Nigerian food requires skills and more tidious to cook,most people like fast food,hence the chinese stir fries but trust me,there are many Chinese foods that the word does not know about,stir fries is probably just 5% of their food
    Now,on to that little boy that asked about ogbono,when I was 10,I didn’t know what it was too and the first time I tasted it,I hated it,never wanted to try it again until I ate it in my friend’s room at the university.There are 100s of Nigerian foods that you don’t know about that is common to those who know about it.
    Nigerian food outside the country is EXPENSIVE! so please forgive us if we don’t cook it everytime and are open to other options,but I can assure you,it is not because we don’t like Nigerian food.
    Now,if your collegues take their food to the cafeteria,they are just being curtious,nobody whats to hear that the food they love is “smelly” or offensive,it just shows that you respect other people
    There are LOTS of Nigerian resturants and pepper soup joints outside Nigeria.
    Now,on to the resturants in Nigeria,if I was going out to treat myself,I would prefer to eat somehing I would not normally cook in my house.
    And just in case you are wondering,my blood is fully Nigerian,in other words,I need my Nigerian food,weather,culture,music,etc,when I go without it for too long,I fall sick,and I am a chef in training too,I cook A LOT and I can tell you that if my Nigerian skills were not inborn,I might never try to cook them just because it takes more,so you can understand if the world has not caught up on our cuisine
    On the flip side,I have a white friend that makes fufu from scratch and no she does not have a Nigerian boyfriend/husband.
    Did I miss anything?

    • Dunni Obata

      May 29, 2013 at 10:55 pm

      Hi Iretidayo, I think you misunderstood the point I was trying to make. We tend to accommodate other people around us when it gets to our food but the people you are trying to protect will not tell someone else from another culture that his/her food stinks. The yam and pepper soup I posted last week which got lovely comments (shout out to you guys) was my lunch that same friday. I refused to get offended when the comments started because the guy 2 feet away from me doesn’t get a peep out of them when he eats his lunch. So, why should I cower away to the cafeteria. They can tolerate his curry and all because the food from his culture is now part and parcel of British life. They love it and they cook it in their homes. Okay we may not have been here as long as they have, but we have been here long enough. I am sorry but I am not going to hide my food from anyone and it doesn’t give anyone the right to be derogatory about it. I never meant to imply that anyone is ashamed of our food. What I was saying was in the context of what I just explained. About the ogbono for a child born of two Yoruba parents, pardon me if I was surprised that she had never seen it before, because for me to have cooked it in her house and she still didn’t know what it was. Come on!!!! Her mum’s reason was she doesn’t really cook 9ja food for them so of course she won’t know it but you had ogbono in the cupboard. Errrr. and you were like oya Dunni cook those your soups for us o before you go. What I was trying to say is some of us always seem to find one excuse or the other to not cook our food and I don’t mean that to be judgemental but when I’ve not come across those excuses with Indians, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Philippino and the rest. Trust me they have complicaaaaaaaated and time consuming dishes too – it is the simple fast food ones that we know. So, I can’t help but wonder why it is so easy for some to just but their food heritage to the background. If you go to a restaurant in Paris, Milan, Berlin, New York, Shanghai, Bangkok etc you will still find food that people cook in their homes just better presented and probably tastes better as it is prepared by professionals so I’m sorry why should Lagos or Abuja be different. I should be able to eat 9ja food all fancy fancy in a posh place and not have to go to Ghana High commission or mama put like @Preye said. Sure they should still have food on their menu you can treat yourself with but not that it takes over the whole menu because our food is not “tush”. We are fond of raising foreign things higher than our own. We do that with a lot of things, you have to agree not just with food. In our own country for that matter. Sorry if I was yapping on, this gal is just passionate about our food and I am pleased to read here that some people are still keeping the flag flying high. Well done guys and well done to you too.

    • olusola

      May 30, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      i agree wit u on our food being expensive outside Nigeria. i think the restaurant owners do that on purpose. i remember a trip to Ghana and der was this joint near my hotel. maybe cus lots of Nigerians were around, the prices were just too over hyped. funny enof, a friend was also in ghana and said she got naija food for affordable prices. funny how Nigerians treat fellow Nigerians outside the country.

  28. natty

    May 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    @IJ, thank you very much, dalston here I come :). @ Socially awkward, beans is my best food oh, nothing can come between me and my beans oh

  29. Knut

    May 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    You are advocating for us to be eating iru and other strong tings in the office but you will change your name from ‘Dunni’ to ‘Dooney’. Issorai, I have no comments.

    • Dunni O

      May 30, 2013 at 9:05 am

      If you had known me from way back, seeing Dooney’s Kitchen won’t come as a surprise because my nickname is Dooneyrooney. My facebook page is actually named Dooneyrooney, you can always check to confirm. I wanted to call the Dooneyrooney’s Kitchen but it was too long as a weblink so I shortened it to Dooney not because I wanted to funkinise my name. I am very proud of my name mainly because of its meaning and I was named after my mum. Even shortened it still manages to retain its meaning and be sweet at the same time. So, sorry to burst your bubble. Lol

  30. Knut

    May 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    I agree with your article 100% o, I just couldn’t help noticing that all the hard core Naija food is coming out of ‘Dooney’s’ Kitchen. People shunning Naija food is your pet peeve, people ‘funkylizing’ Naija names so they sound ‘awayan’ is mine.

  31. KemKem

    May 29, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Naijarians! Choi! Una can like food??! See all the quick sharp sharp long comments. I hail una o!
    But seriously though, this has been a long time coming, Dunni big thumbs up for what you are doing! I am a full-fledged fan of Nigerian food and while in uni, i used to cook for my friends before and after classes lol. I just love cooking and watching people eat so much so that i used to pray hard that i marry a man who loved food as i am not such a big eater myself. And guess what, Baba God answered my prayers..my hubby nearly doubled in size in our first year of marriage! Who like food jam who fit cook! My husband calls me a feeder lol but no be my fault, i guess i am just wired that way…so imagine my joy when i see a food blog like yours giving me more reasons to cook and expand my hubby’s waist line hehehe

    Thank u girl for taking the time to do this..i’ve got some wicked recipes up my sleeves as well and will send you a couple in due course. Annnd your headers are probably the best thing ever, i need to hire you to title my blog post lol

    Seriously, we need to talk business.

    • Dunni O

      May 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Hello, fellow feeder. Lol. People tend to leave my house almost comatose from food. As if you know what my prayer is too, Lord let him love food is high on the list. Thank you for your comments about the blog, really. I am glad people appreciate it. Please send me the recipes when you can, I will be patiently waiting. I don’t know everything about our food and I am always willing to learn.

  32. Amaka

    May 30, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I enjoy my okro soup & eba; plantain porridge as well and other varieties of Nigerian dishes at the office. I’m known already for my delicacies as my colleagues would always say it’s only my food that my food can smell for Africa lol
    I enjoy it because i eat healthy and can control what i eat and do not have to dwell on fast-food.

  33. Knut

    May 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Dunni, you haven’t burst my bubble and your explanation doesn’t paint a different picture. If you are proud of your name (which I don’t doubt), i’d think you’d want thatn to reflect alongside your pride in Nigerian food. Nobody knows this story you just told (not like it made a difference to me) until you tell it. I bet many people have ‘valid’ stories too about why they won’t eat/ promote Nigerian food.

  34. winny!

    May 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Does any 1 of u know onunu and pulo(oil) stew?dis is kalabari food,it’s basically ripe plantain n yam pounded together then taken with fresh fish stew!how about yellow soup!dis is a nembe soup ie bayelsa state origin!bole n fish wit sauce d bayelsa n rivers way!mehn naija food list is endless and amazing!me i am proudly niger delta n i love our sea food n delicious meals.winifred lucky imbasi!

  35. olusola

    May 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    i remember when i started my current job. goin to the cafeteria wasnt sometin i looked forward to. 3 months down the lane, i had to explore the area in search of real food and still didnt get any (unknowingly i was checking the wrong places.) fortunately, a fellow street guy over heard me ranting and finally unraveled the mystery joint to me. if you see all my Oga’s at the TOP setting time alert just to visit this shambled wooden kiosk for the same reason i go there, u go bow. nice homemade soups and swallows cooked on firewood. i dont care how much of smoke i bath in, what i want is the food. nicely served better than what the vendors in the cafeteria bring sef. today was real business cuz immediately i got to work (even after my big bowl of rice) i still yearned for mama calabar (thats what i call her to my colleagues). even wit the pool of water surrounding the area, i went inside for a very tantalising bowl of Egusi soup and semo. i even met a colleague who opened her pant zip just to have a swell time. LWKMD! i just love adventuring on food. am a yoruba boi but i kinda prefer the eastern delicacy. i can eat swallow 10times a day on eastern soup. #CoversFace

  36. foluke

    May 30, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Some people can just hate. Creating discord where there is not. I am a member of the Facebook Group So you think you can cook and I have seen your posts on there under Dooneyrooney which shows on my Facebook Homepage with other people that also post on the group. Good idea by the way to advertise your blog on that group. Wo, dunni keep doing your thing jare. Those who can’t get off their butts and do something will always find something to citicise. Dooney’s kitchen o, dunni’s kitchen o. Story story o. Idea is need. Very good write up that challenges one. My office people go hear am this coming weeks. All my egusi, edika, aya mase. Lunch is no longer going to be boring. Your blog is fab and different

  37. foluke

    May 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    *criticise

  38. Lamide

    May 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Case in point about presentation. Dunni the way you arranged that Jollof rice, dodo and chicken on your blog. WONDERFUL. The fried rice too nko. That simple crossing of the drumsticks plus green beans on the side. BRILLIANT. I had to look twice at that Bole. I mean Bole that we buy on the road now looks tush. Mo gbe. You can serve that anywhere and it will be well received. If only Nigerian restaurants can just take a leaf from that. They just serve you food the same way you will eat at home. Paying for food outside your home is as much of the experience as is the food. In fact you have just inspired me to be making more of an effort to plate my food when I entertain. Great job

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