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Tribes & Ethnic Groups In Nigeria And Their Foods

tribes ethnic groups nigeria foods

Tribes & Ethnic Groups In Nigeria And Their Foods

The diversity of the people who make up the country is what makes Nigeria rich in culture. Nigeria reportedly has about 200 tribes and over 350 ethnic groups. Each and every one of these tribes is unique in one way or the other. The Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo are the major tribes in Nigeria.

These large numbers of tribes means an interesting variety of cultural and traditional practices. Just about every tribe and ethnic group in Nigeria has their special meals and dishes which are peculiar to them. This is why Nigeria is rich in a vast number of great delicacies.

The Igbo Tribe And Their Foods

The Igbo people of Nigeria occupy mostly the South-Eastern parts of Nigeria. But they can be found in their large numbers in just about every state in Nigeria and beyond. This is because they are a group of people who are majorly traders.

The tribe has a variety of tasty soups which are quite popular amongst Igbo and non-Igbo people. Popular soups amongst the Igbo include: Bitter Leaf soup, Oha soup, Nsala soup, Okazi soup and Okra soup. Etc. These soups can be paired with the various Nigeria foods often referred to as swallow. These include Akpu, semo, garri and the likes. Bitter leaf soup is one of the most common soups amongst the Igbo’s.

How To Make Ofe Onugbu (Bitter-Leaf Soup)

This soup is quite the treat and generally a Nigerian favorite. It can be prepared in a number of ways. The English name for this soup is Bitter Leaf. The name is gotten most likely from the bitter nature of the leaf used in preparing it.

how to make Ofe Onugbu

Before this leaf can be used, it needs to be rigorously and repeatedly washed, in order to greatly reduce its degree of bitterness.

For the preparation of this soup, you would require the following ingredients: meat (about a kilo), smoothly smashed cocoyam, crayfish, stock fish, palm oil, dry fish, salt, pepper, seasoning cubes and of course your bitter-leaf.


  1. Begin with your bitter-leaf. Properly wash and then boil for a couple of minutes, probably 8-10 minutes. This makes the leaf softer and further removes the bitter taste.
  2. Wash season and boil your meat of choice until it is properly cooked.
  3. When the meat is cooked, wash your stock and dry fish properly. Then add it to the pot containing your meat. Let it cook for a couple of more minutes.
  4. Add crayfish, salt and seasoning cubes to taste, add your pepper and palm oil as well. Pour in more water and let it cook.
  5. When it boils, to give it some thickness, add your smoothly mashed cocoyam to the mix.
  6. Allow to cook until the cocoyam has properly blended with the soup. At this point put in your bitter-leaf which should already have been strained and squeezed. Make sure the bitter-leaf is well stirred and mixed properly with the soup.
  7. After this point, the Bitter-Leaf soup should cook for just a little over two minutes and the soup is ready. This soup can be served with Pounded yam, Garri (Eba), Semo and whatever ‘swallow’ of your choice.

The Efik Tribe And Their Foods

This tribe is said to be related to other tribes like the Igbo, Ijaw and Ibibio. They are predominately found in the South-East region of Nigeria. They occupy places in states like Akwa-Ibom and Cross-River.

They have dishes like yam porridge, cocoyam porridge, and rice porridge. The Efik have soups like Editan, Oton, Edikan-Ikon and host of others. Meals of this tribe are always rich in seas foods as the tribe is located at the coastal regions of Nigeria. Edikan-Ikan soup is a popular and rich delicacy amongst the Efik people of Nigeria.

how to make Edikan Ikon Soup

How To Make Edikan-Ikon Soup

The ingredients for this soup include: palm oil, crayfish (ground), and seas foods like oysters, shrimps, periwinkle (unshelled) and snails. Meat dried/fresh or both, water leaves (fresh), Pumpkin leaves (fresh fluted), Salt, seasoning cubes and pepper, scaled fish and stock fish.

Bear in mind that this soup should be very rich in the above ingredients. So your ingredients should be in very reasonable quantities.


  1. Properly and separately wash your leaves (Pumpkin and Water leaves) and chop them.
  2. Your stock fish, dry fish and meat should be washed well. Season them properly don’t not boil immediately, leave them to absorb the seasoning for about an hour and a half or two hours before boiling.
  3. Cook until your proteins have absorbed some water and soften a little.
  4. Thoroughly wash and season your shrimps, oysters, snails, and periwinkle. Leave to sit and then steam for just a few minutes. This is so they do not end up overcooked.
  5. First put in your water leaf into a pot, so it loses some of its juiciness, follow this by putting the pumpkin leaves and mix preferably with a wooden spoon. The heat used for cooking should not be excessive.
  6. Add the ingredients which were previously boiled and steamed (meat, stockfish, seas food etc).
  7. Do a proper seasoning for this soup. This usually means a lot of crayfish and stock cubes to make it tasty. Then add pepper, salt and the likes. This should be done to taste.
  8. Add palm oil and mix. The soup should remain on the fire until it begins to produce a frying sound and smell.
  9. The cooked soup is now brought down from the fire and allowed to sit for hours to further enhance its taste.

As with many Nigerian soups, it is paired with starchy food like fufu, pounded yam and the likes.

The Yoruba Tribe And Their Foods

The Yoruba people occupy the South-Western region of Nigeria. They are a group of people who love celebrations. They have a number of popular dishes some of which are: ikokore, amala, ekuru, ofada rice and soups like efor riro, obe egusi, gbegiri, ewedu and the likes. A very popular soup amongst this tribe is efor riro.

how to make efo riro with spinach

How To Make Vegetable Soup; Efo Riro

This soup is otherwise known in English as vegetable soup, the ingredients required for this soup are: ponmo, meat, cow liver, dry fish, stock fish, fresh pepper, salt, locust beans, onions, crayfish (ground), seasoning cubes, palm oil and vegetable. The vegetable used for this soup is known in English as green amaranth and in Yoruba it is known as tete. In some regions, this kind of vegetable is simply known as green.


  1. Wash, blanch and slice your vegetable leaves and then set it aside.
  2. Wash, season and boil your meat whatever kind being used, add in the ponmo and cow liver as well.
  3. When the meat is almost cooked, add your washed and deboned stock fish and dry fish.
  4. When this meat is ready, remove the ponmo and cow liver and chop into medium size dices.
  5. In a fresh pot pour palm oil, chopped onions and slightly ground fresh pepper. Allow this mixture to fry for about 5-10 minutes.
  6. Put in your ground crayfish and whole or ground locust beans (iru), stir it all in.
  7. Put in your ponmo, cow liver, fish, and meat then stir again. Add salt and season to taste.
  8. Squeeze out water from your blanched vegetables (if any) and add it to the sauce already on the fire.
  9. Gradually mix the vegetable in, taste and add more of the needed ingredients if you find it lacking.
  10. Cook for 3-5 minutes and then take it off the fire. Your vegetable soup is ready and can be eaten with amala, rice, semo etc.

The Hausa Tribe And Their Foods

The Hausa people are predominately located in the Northern region of Nigeria. They can also be found in neighboring West African Countries and are scattered all around the states in Nigeria as well.

They have several interesting dishes some of which include: Dan wake, Tuwo shinkafa, Dambu nama, Kilishi, Suya, Sinasir, groundnut soup, miyan Kuka and Masa. A common Hausa food is known as Masa. It can be eaten as a snack or as a whole meal paired with foods like Dambu  Nama.

How To Make Masa

For the preparation of this food you will require ingredients like: equal amounts of raw and cooked rice (using one cup each), one and a half tablespoon of sugar, salt, a cup of warm water, a teaspoon of yeast (dry), vegetable oil. The rice required for this recipe is the type used in the preparation of the Hausa delicacy tuwo.

how to make masa hausa food recipe


  1. In a bowl of water soak one cup of raw rice let it seat over-night. After this, wash the soaked rice and then add in your cooked rice. Add half a cup of water and blend both into a smooth paste. Add a little water if needed. The mixture should be pasty in texture.
  2. In half a cup of water, add your yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. Allow this to seat for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. In a bigger bowl, pour your blended rice and add your yeast and sugar mixture. Add what is left of the sugar, a little bit of salt and mix.
  4. Cover this mixture with a clean napkin and leave to sit for about 7-8 hours.
  5. In a pan, put a little portion of oil and fry both sides, one at a time. Both sides should be left to fry for about 2-3 minutes until its golden brown in color.

Other tribes in Nigeria also have colorful and nutritious dishes peculiar to them, but the above listed are the most popular from very common Nigerian tribes.



  1. Omoaye

    June 14, 2019 at 2:10 AM

    am missing efo riro but thereis no way to have it here in Australia.

    • missyaussie

      June 14, 2019 at 9:51 AM

      Omo aye. Where in Australia do you live. I reside in Australia too. You can get your African foodstuffs here to make efo riro.

      • Omoaye

        June 14, 2019 at 12:13 PM

        MissyAussie thanks for the quick comment, I stay in Sydney, any African store here.

        • missyaussie

          June 14, 2019 at 12:46 PM

          @Omoaye. I once lived in Sydney some years back and I know of a shop in Mount Druitt where you can get African condiments. Not sure if the shop is still there now. I currently reside in Melbourne and we have some African shops you can get varieties to make Nigerian food. You can Google Nula shop in Melbourne. It is a Nigerian shop that sells Nigeria foodstuffs, Clothes, cream, shoes, wigs, gold necklace etc. Just like your typical Lagos shop. They can post what you want to you in Sydney. I go to that shop once a while for bulk purchase. Shop is owned by Hausa couple. Pricing very reasonable too. Wholesale price.

        • missyaussie

          June 14, 2019 at 1:04 PM

          You can also give them a call and ask for the type of foodstuffs or any products you want. They stock varieties that are not display on there website. Just give them a call and they can take your order.

          • Omoaye

            June 14, 2019 at 8:08 PM

            My sister with a heart of gold. Thanks for giving me this, I will go there on Saturday.
            Be blessed ma. Really appreciate your kindness.

  2. Truthseeker

    June 14, 2019 at 2:14 AM

    All these soups contributed to my big stomach. I don’t know how to stop

  3. Fifelomo

    June 14, 2019 at 9:57 PM

    Nice one.

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