9 Ingenious Ways Nigerians Use Maize
As at last count, Nigeria has about 371 distinct tribes living within her borders and making up the indigenous population. These tribes are all deeply-cultural people of rich ancestry and history, with unique attributes and socio-cultural habits. Nonetheless, they share a common bias for maize, which is unsurprisingly a staple diet in West Africa.
We take a look at some of the creative ways to use maize.
Pap is a common breakfast meal not just across Africa but in Nigeria. It is made from processed wet corn starch and is prepared using steaming hot water. The Igbo refer to it as akamu while the Yoruba call it ogi. There is also the solid cake-like pap, known as eko in Yoruba and agidi in Igbo. Depending on preference, some like to add condiments like ginger and garlic to the corn while it is being processed into pap. The nutritional benefits are innumerable and it can be taken with so many other healthy foods such as bean cake, moi-moi, honey and vegetables.
Pap is 100% natural, has high potassium content and is recommended for athletes, people with high blood pressure, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and infants. It is also the perfect meal for the sick as it is so easy to ingest and digest. Pap can be processed from millet, sorghum and other grains in the maize family, the most popular varieties in Nigeria remain the clear white pap and the yellowish kind.
This meal is especially famous among the Yoruba people who similar to other ethnic groups in Nigeria, can’t do without maize. The porridge is prepared by cooking beans (mostly the brownish-red or black beans variety) together with already boiled maize grains, which are eventually mashed and spiced up with palm oil, and ground pepper ─ some also add fresh pepper, fish or crayfish, salt and seasoning. It is an absolutely delicious and healthy meal that can be taken at different periods in the day. The high fibre content of maize combined with the rich dose of proteins from the beans, makes for an irresistible mash-up of nutrients.
Although cassava is the mainly used food substance in processing Nigerian fufu, maize is another healthy alternative also commonly used. Fufu is a staple swallow food in most parts of Nigeria and is almost as ubiquitous as garri or eba ─ another cassava by-product.
Fufu has ample carbohydrates, protein and fat content, and is commonly perceived as an energy-giving food, especially by blue-collar workers who prefer eating it before work. Fufu is best ingested with any preferred soup.
This is another popular swallow dish made chiefly of maize. It originates from the north of Nigeria where it is extremely popular among the Hausa and Fulani peoples. It has a variant made of rice called tuwo shinkafa.
Like every other local dough, tuwo masara is best consumed with soup. It is highly nutritious and said to prevent constipation and reduce stomach acidity. In addition, it is reported to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart diseases and to prevent certain cancers.
Corn Pudding (Nigerian Tamales)
Locally, it goes by many names including ekoki, nni-oka and sapala. Basically, it is moi-moi made ingeniously with maize instead of beans.
The method of preparation is also similar to that of moi-moi, the major difference being the use of corn flour. Corn pudding is prepared with different ingredients across tribes, and is a staple meal among the peoples of eastern Nigeria.
It is nonetheless a healthy maize-based food, specifically recommended for people on a weight-loss diet.
Nigerians also love to eat maize as a daytime/night-time snack; boiled or roasted on/off the cob─ it is considered a sort of local fast-food/snack around the country. Both are healthy options that can be consumed simultaneously with coconuts, ube (African pear) or any other desired fruit.
This is another popular maize snack especially among the Yorubas in south-west Nigeria. Fully prepared and ready to eat, aadun usually has a distinct reddish-orange hue, and is solid but sticky-smooth on the palate. Roasted corn flour, palm oil and salt are the chief ingredients used in making aadun. Translated, it means ‘sweetness’ in English and is closer in similarity to cake than bean cake.
Pito can be an alcoholic or non-alcoholic sweetened malt drink depending on its preparation. Though it is a popular beverage among the tribes of Plateau state in Nigeria, it is also consumed in other regions of the country.
Pito is commonly made from a combination of sorghum, millet and/or maize. Burukutu, a by-product of the process, is a much stronger drink that inebriates quicker. Pito also serves a symbolic socio-cultural role similar to palm wine as it often features during notable events like traditional weddings, naming ceremonies and important festivals.
Gwate also originates from among the people of Plateau state and is among their most staple maize-based meals. It is a liquid porridge made from roughly ground maize, tomatoes, onions, salt, seasoning, beef, groundnut flour and spinach.
Like pap, gwate is recommended for recuperating people, infants and diabetics. However, acha grains (fonio millet) are better in place of maize for making gwate for both infants and diabetics.
If there are other creative ways you know maize is used in Nigeria, we would love to hear them, do share.
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