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Iconic Roadside Meals From Around Nigeria

When travelling, my rule on new snacks or food is simple. I call it “the one bite rule”. You take a bite and if it tastes good enough another bite, or else it’s a goodbye. Foods are the soul into a people’s culture, and you shouldn’t avoid a new meal when you travel. Every traveller should be curious about that new delicacy on the plate and should satisfy their cravings by just taking a bite!

Our travel experience into a new culture is a sum of what we eat, how we eat it and what we learn about the local culture when we do so.
Every city in Nigeria has a major food that embodies the essence and uniqueness of the city-from the meticulously crafted Okpa in Enugu to the succulent and juicy sugarcane in Mokwa, Niger state, it is clear that travel and food are inseparable. Got an appetite for more? Here is the Nigerian travel eatlist:

Enugu’s Okpa

Okpa. Photo: Connect Nigeria

You can’t be wrong with any Okpa you find on the street of Enugu. Every curious Enugu connoisseur knows true love is wrapped around the leaves of a typical Enugu Okpa. In fact, Enugu people have little regard for other Okpas’ from neighbouring eastern states.
Top spot to tuck in? 9th Mile is the place for one of the best Okpas’ in the Coal City. However, an Nsukka indigene will try to argue with this. This is because Nsukka Okpa has a distinct flavour, mostly sold in aluminium tins with a little uziza flavour while that of 9th mile is wrapped in leaves.

Niger’s Kuli Kuli and Donkwa

Kuli kuli. Wikipedia

The Nupe people of Niger State and part of Kwara are known for a special kind of Kuli Kuli. The snack is so good it was named twice-Kuli Kuli! It differs from the everyday Kuli Kuli you find in other states, garnished with pepper and a little sugar, Kuli Kuli is a mouthwatering snack to have on the go.
Top spot to tuck in? There are a plethora of women carrying trays dotted around everywhere along the roadside and market places in Niger state- check Kainji-Mokwa, Bida down to Minna.

Oyo’s Amala

Skye Bank Amala. Photo: Tope Oriola

If there is one meal to try when visiting Oyo, it would definitely be Amala. No Amala is the same as that of Oyo state. Amala is basically a way of life in Oyo, a ploy politicians used to garner the votes of the people. If there is a grab-and-go-meal in Oyo, it is Amala.
Top spot to tuck in? Head to Amala Skye along Bodija.

Lokaja’s Fish

Fish-P.C-Mayowa Blades

Fish! As one of the few cities that dip itself in between two rivers, it is not uncommon to find fish almost everywhere in Lokoja. Freshly caught fish is grilled and sauced in a blink of an eye.
Top spot to tuck in? Enjoy an authentic fish experience at the banks of the River Niger and Benue in Lokoja.

Akara Ogbomoso

Akara. Photo credit: Foodace

The word Akara should be soft and selectively broken on the back of that letter K. The Akara Ogbomoso is far from soft. As you drive pass Ogbomosho, the word Akara drops into your oily ear and sunk deep. Unlike the typical Akara which is soft, Akara Ogbomoso is very dry and hard but with a similar taste.
Top spot to tuck in? Hawkers along Old Oyo-Ogbomoso road.

Ilorin’s Waara

A visit to Ilorin is not complete if you don’t taste Waara. Waara (cheese curds mostly squeaky, elastic and in cone shapes) are eaten either fried or raw. The red waara is often referred to as “waara Kayama” , named after the place it came from-Kayama. In stew and soups, waara are sometimes a replacement for meat.
Top spot to tuck in? Oja Oba in the ancient part of Ilorin is the place for all kinds of waara. You see the women in their wares selling waara.

Gombe’s Fura da Nono

Gombe stands out with Fura da Nono. Fura da Nono translates to millet balls and fermented cow milk. This drink is the best way to cool off. After a cold served drink of Fura da nono, you are guaranteed a leisurely snooze.
Top spot to tuck in? Everywhere around Gombe, a beautiful adorned Fulani woman hawks Fura da Nono in a big calabash.

Food is the most primitive form of relaxation. When we travel, the food we eat tells a story, offering us a unique chance to connect with local traditions organically. You feed yourself with more than just food when you travel.

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