With ever-developing tastes and a proliferation of available culinary options, Nigerian foodies no longer need to choose between luxury and necessity. Evolving from kitchens that fuse varying cultures and influences, street food ranges from basic sustenance to gastronomic adventure. Here are some of the best local dishes, both easy on the palate and pocket, that Lagos has to serve up.
Akara is the breakfast of local champions. The fried bean cakes are liberally peppered and seasoned and make for a meal to warm the cockles during the rainy season of Harmattan, or provide fuel for the fiercely hot summers. You can find women all over the street with their big vats of oil, which give off delicious aromas while beckoning you with their sizzling goodness.
As the queen of finger food, Puff Puffs have secured a place in the hearts of Lagosians and Nigerians. The doughy, sweet fried treats are a staple at weddings, anniversaries or any occasion that warrants a buffet, and have secured a place of honour among their peers.
For those in need of a quick and filling lunch, boli – roasted plantain – is the go-to street snack for hungry people on the move. It is sold with roasted groundnuts or fish depending on the area you’re travelling in.
A delight of Northern origins, kilishi is jerky that is a variation on the famous suya shish kebab. Instead of being spiced, roasted and skewered, the meat (from beef, lamb or goat) is marinated so it easily separates from the bone, before being cut into razor-thin slices and sun-dried.
Another creation from the North, ‘Dambu’ uses traditional spiced meat and chicken and is grounded down until the fluffy shreds can be scooped into soft handfuls. The soft crumbs melt then solidify in your mouth, providing a taste explosion with each bite.
A seasonal street food hit, roasted corn is a roadside staple that goes well with avocados and pears. If the charcoal-seasoned variety isn’t your style, opt for the boiled version.
The yin to puff puff’s yang, fried yam and salt makes the perfect accompaniment to the dough balls or even akara. Nothing is more Lagosian than these delicious staples wrapped in old newspaper.
A dried fruit mix containing dates or tiger nuts, these sweet street food snacks go perfectly with a glass of wine after work. They are a favourite among Northerners, or anyone with a sweet tooth really.
These Togolese beans, which have been embraced and adapted into new forms by Nigerians, are simple to prepare. One easy method to make your colleagues salivate is to boil the beans and combine them with pepper stew, tomatoes and onions.
The feast from the East is also colloquially referred to as African salad and is a mix of garden eggs and green vegetables, all dressed with palm oil. Abacha will agree with your stomach, but may tickle the nose hairs, so be sure to eat it outside the office.
Lagos contains many more street food options, and this selection is guaranteed to make you come back to find more new and exciting ways to tantalise your taste buds. So if you’re ever in town, dig in and enjoy!