Trying some classic Nigerian street snacks
Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Snacks are an essential part of road trips. You can't really predict the traffic situation on our highways and a trip that was supposed to take 4 hours could end up taking 10! But not to worry, along the highways, you come across people selling snacks. Some familiar, and others less so. I tried some on my trip to Kwara State and here’s what I found.
Corn is by no means a new snack to me, but it's definitely a favorite. It's very common, especially during the rainy season and can be boiled or roasted and eaten right off the cob. In Nigeria, we eat it plain but many other countries take theirs to another level. The Mexican version, "elote" is an example of this where they baste it with seasonings, cheese, etc.
I prefer my corn roasted. The kernels have to be a soft to medium consistency. Roasting them over open coals bring out the sugars for a tasty treat and you can toss the cob because it doesn’t harm the environment.
This snack comes from the town of Ikire in Osun state. It is made from ripe plantains that have been mashed and combined with pepper, salt and oil. This mixture is shaped into a cone and then deep fried and sold in packs of 3.
I like this one quite a bit, I don't think there's a form of plantain I won't enjoy. It's sweet, spicy and the salt balances the flavor profile nicely. It has a very chewy texture and it's somewhat of a workout to eat, so I got tired after eating 2 pieces.
This was one of the snacks I tried for the first time and it's an interesting one. Aadun is made from a mixture of roasted corn flour, salt, dry pepper and palm oil. These ingredients are combined to form a homogenous mixture and then it's molded into any shape you want. Probably one of the simplest recipes I've read.
It is quite savory, even though the name literally translates to "sweetness". It has a crumbly (almost chalky) consistency that took me by surprise. The palm oil aroma is present, but it's not overpowering. I still haven't decided if I like it or not, but I will definitely eat it again. I wonder if chefs can incorporate this into their dishes somehow, could be interesting.
Akara is a spiced fritter that is made from beans. The beans are soaked in water for hours, washed, ground and then mixed with spices. The mixture is deep fried until the outside is crunchy and golden brown. The best Akara is light and airy on the inside, and while most people have it for breakfast, I can eat it any time of the day.
Akara isn’t new to me but in Kwara State, they make them fun sized! This amps up the crispyness and I enjoyed snacking on these on one of my morning walks.
Kokoro is a crunchy corn based snack that I really enjoyed trying. It doesn't have much flavor, except for the very mild cassava taste (I later confirmed that garri is part of the ingredient). They are rod shaped and hollow, making them very light and airy. It is apparently popular amongst children, and it's not so difficult to see why - it's so much fun to eat!
I tried it for the first time and it's definitely something I will always buy whenever I see it.
It always astonishes me how much of Nigeria I have not yet tasted. Some of these snacks were familiar however, others were new experiences worthy of being documented. Let me know which of these you have tried and which ones you’re curious about.
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