Now, this has been a long time coming! There are so many dishes that you must have categorized as Nigerian foods since you have been eating them since childhood have gotten so used to them over time.
Nigeria’s food scene is rich, and we are proud to have such diverse options. A fun fact is that you will find Nigerian food in 90% of the African Restaurants across the globe, as our meals and flavors speak for themselves.
We’ve noticed some other regions of the world claiming ownership of dishes that we have taken pride in, and we almost couldn’t handle it, so we did our research. We are back with the results, and we guarantee you might be shocked to see what we have on this list. Here are five popular Nigerian meals that did not originate from Nigeria:
- Jollof Rice
Yes! Our own Jollof rice!! We apologize for starting this list with such a shocker, but it had to be done. Rice itself is as much African as it is Asian. However, history has credited the invention of “Jollof” to the Wolof/Jollof/Djolof people of Senegambia. That is apparently where the dish got its name from. This history dates back to colonial rule in West Africa as far back as 1860 – 1940 when the French colonizers replaced food crops with imported broken rice. History also has it that a Senegalese cook called Penda Mbaye played a massive role in the creation of this dish. However, details about her identity, the time and place she lived in, and the conditions it took to create this one-pot dish are unclear.
- Ewa Agoyin
Our Ewa Agoyin has been enjoyed in Nigeria for years now. But it didn’t exist in the country at all till the first wave of Agoyin immigrants came to Lagos in the 1960s. If there’s anything we would do in Lagos, it is to give everyone and everything a nickname. Agoyin is a tribe in the Benin Republic, but it is a general term Lagosians use to refer to Beninese and Togolese people. Hence, Ewa Agoyin is how Nigerians described the beans prepared by these people of Togolese and Beninese origins.
Shocked that our dodo is on this list? We are, too! Plantains and bananas were not common around the world 4,000 years ago. History notes that this fruit originated in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific around 8,000 to 5,000 BCE. The Kuk Valley of New Guinea is known to be the only place in the world where bananas were domesticated eons ago. From there, it moved to the Philippines, and the colonizers spread it around the world. We must note that plantains are a hybrid of two banana species and did not exist until people created them. How they were eaten and enjoyed then has evolved as people have found better ways to enjoy this delicacy over time.
Many Igbos will bet their life’s earnings to prove that they are the creators of their beloved Akpu. But we would tell you for free that the Ghanaians worship this meal just as much as you do, and maybe even more. History notes that the Asante, the Akuapem, the Akyem, the Bono, and the Fante people of the Akan ethnic group of Ghana are the original owners of Fufu, which is now enjoyed around West Africa. However, how Ghanaians prepare their Fufu slightly differs from how the Igbos make theirs, as the Ghanaians pound pieces of cassava and any other tubers of choice to make theirs. In contrast, the Igbos make theirs strictly with cassavas.
Shawarma is now so widespread across Nigeria that one might begin to forget that this delicious snack was never of Nigerian descent. Wherever you visit in the country, there is always a probability that you will find a vendor selling shawarma close by, which just goes to show how much we enjoy this. However, it did not exist in Nigeria till a few decades ago. This Middle Eastern Arabic-style sandwich was developed in Bursa by a cook named Hadji Iskender in the 19th century in current-day Turkey.
It’s surprising that we aren’t the original creators of many of the dishes we’ve grown up loving. If anything, this only shows that we, as a country, are very welcoming of other cultures, and we have very refined palettes to be able to recognize these delicacies from around the world and make them into our own. That’s a win if you’d ask us. Do you know of other ‘Nigerian’ delicacies that aren’t Nigerian? How did you find out, and what was your reaction?