When you first walk into a Nigerian restaurant and open up the menu, you may have no idea what to order. All of the names of dishes are unfamiliar, and the ingredients, if they are even listed in English, are not overly familiar either. That's where this guide will come in handy! These are a few top Nigerian dishes that are perfect for trying the first time out.
Definitely order some garri for the table. These delicious balls are made from fermented tuber roots that are turned into a flour. The outside of the fried balls is nice and crispy, similar to an authentic donut. Garri are sometimes dropped into soups and stews, like a dumpling, but they're delicious enjoyed on their own too.
This is the perfect, approachable rice dish for someone who is enjoying Nigerian food for the first time. It has some heat but is not terribly spicy. The rice is cooked with onions, tomatoes, chile peppers, and various meats and seafood — usually whatever the kitchen had on hand and wanted to use up. Topped with fresh herbs, it is as beautiful as it is delicious.
This rice dish is a bit more adventurous, but still very approachable. The rice is fried with chicken or fish before being topped with a rich sauce made from pumpkin. Then, pumpkin leaves and spinach are added to the dish and cooked until they wilt. Efo Riro is soft, like a thick stew, and is wonderful on cold days.
Suya is basically marinated, skewered meat that is cooked on a grill. The marinade usually consists of a base of ground peanuts and ginger. You'll see chicken suya a lot in Nigerian restaurants in the U.S., but it is also traditional to use goat or lamb.
Moi Moi is like a Nigerian pot pie. The base is made from ground beans, and the pie is stuffed with a mixture of eggs, crayfish, sardines, and sometimes meats. Usually, the dish is made in individual portions. In Nigeria, it is eaten as a snack on the street, but a lot of modern restaurants serve it as a light lunch option.
You really can't go wrong with any of the Nigerian dishes above. Each one brings a little something different to the table, but none of them are so foreign or different that you won't be able to enjoy them.