The holiday season in Nigeria is a time of joy, togetherness, and, of course, indulgence in the country’s rich and diverse culinary traditions.
Christmas, in particular, is a festive occasion marked by the preparation and sharing of delicious meals that bring families and communities together. It is always a memorable event for the Christian folks in Nigeria as well as the rest of the world, it is celebrated to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.
As in most cultures that celebrate Christmas, the main activities in Nigeria are exchanging presents, buying new clothes, sending cards, and visiting loved ones and places of interest, and, of course, enjoying traditional foods and drinks.
In fact, a major component of the Christmas celebration is the consumption of delicious foods and assorted drinks by Nigerians.
If you are celebrating Christmas in Nigeria and wondering what to prepare for Christmas, in this article, we hereby share some Christmas food ideas:
- Jollof rice
Jollof rice is one of the best delicacies every Nigerian home does not miss for the Christmas celebration. This dish has earned its place in the culinary hall of fame as it is widely acknowledged that no celebration, be it Christmas or any other occasion, is truly complete without it. It is often served with dodo (fried plantain), grilled or fried chicken, steak, and coleslaw.
Jollof rice ingredients include long-grain parboiled rice, chicken, tomatoes, tatashe peppers, tomato paste, ginger, and onion.
However, the ingredients and preparation methods for jollof rice vary across different regions, contributing to its diverse appeal. These regional distinctions have sparked friendly competition among West African countries, notably between Nigeria and Ghana. The dispute over whose version reigns supreme has evolved into a good-natured rivalry, famously dubbed the “Jollof Wars”.
- Fried Rice
The well-known Nigerian jollof rice has a sibling: fried rice. It is a Nigerian party favourite. It is one of the most popular options throughout the Christmas season. Often many people find it difficult to choose between fried and Jollof rice. This is why they are both sometimes served together.
- White Rice and Stew or Sauce
White rice and stew is a staple throughout the Christmas season. It has the advantage that the leftovers can be stored for an extra day, unlike other rice meals that lose flavor after the first day. Christmas stew recipes include the popular tomato stew, vegetable stew, and veggie chicken sauce.
- Pounded Yam and Efo Riro
Pounded yam and efo riro is a Christmas lunch, it is sometimes referred to as a “knockout meal”, that raises the tempo of the holiday season. Efo riro is a basic traditional vegetable soup native to the Western Region of Nigeria. It can be eaten with white rice, plantains, yams, and other foods. Christmas should always be celebrated with this nourishing meal.
- Abacha (African Salad)
Christmas is definitely incomplete without this delicious, well-garnished meal from the Eastern part of Nigeria. Abacha is made with shredded cassava and is served as an appetiser. However, it also can be served as a main course and is a delicious and healthy meal.
Ukwa (African Bread Fruit Pottage): The Igbo culinary tradition gave rise to Ukwa, commonly known as African breadfruit. Ukwa is widely consumed in the eastern part of Nigeria and competition for it is greatest around Christmas; given its nutritious and delicious qualities, it commands a premium price on the market. Various techniques may be used to produce this meal. You can boil or roast Ukwa, or eat it raw with palm kernel nuts and some people pound it like pounded yam.
- Fisherman Soup
This Christmas, let your palate explore the richness of seafood. A well-known dish from the southern regions of Nigeria (particularly Akwa Ibom and Cross River) with a long history, fisherman’s soup is seen as food for the affluent.
Nigerian fisherman’s soup is a straightforward Christmas meal prepared using fish and other seafood, depending on taste, including catfish or lobster.
- Tuwo Shinkafa (Rice Porridge)
Tuwo Shinkafa is one of the most popular meals in the northern part of Nigeria, especially for special occasions. However, it has been adopted by other cultures and it’s a delight to many. Tuwo Shinkafa is made from rice and served with any preferred soup but popularly with bean soup. There’s no perfect Christmas without tuwo in Northern Nigeria.
- Ofada Rice and Stew
Ofada rice, a local and more aromatic variety, is often paired with Ayamase Sauce or designer stew, a spicy pepper sauce made with assorted meats. The dish is a staple at Yoruba celebrations.
Ofada rice is a flavorful rice cultivated in several regions of Nigeria. Since some of the rice bran is still attached to the grain, it has a stronger flavor than conventional rice. Ofada stew has a warm, reviving flavor that will have you wanting more when served over Ofada rice.
- Ofe Nsala (White Soup)
Ofe Nsala is a traditional Igbo soup made with a blend of spices, yams, and either goatmeat or fish. The light-colored soup is rich in flavor and often enjoyed during festive occasions. It can be paired with pounded yam.
- Amala and Ewedu Soup
Amala is a dark, smooth, and savory porridge-like dish made from yam, plantains, or cassava. It is often served with Ewedu Soup, a flavorful soup made from jute leaves paired with fish or meat soup.