Eating Nigerian Food Outside Nigeria

The struggle to eat Nigerian food outside Nigeria is VERY real! If you have not experienced this, you will never understand it.

You mean you use Quaker Oats as cocoyam in Bitterleaf Soup? Tufiakwa! That is an abomination! The elders must hear this! πŸ˜€

Before you get up in arms sister or brother … Quaker Oats are even close to the real thing because you won’t notice any difference. Ever heard of tomato paste as palm oil in Bitterleaf Soup? Wheat flour as thickener in Bitterleaf Soup? Wheat flour for swallows? Mmh, you never see sontin ooo!

When I first moved to the north of Spain, in a city predominantly populated by the Españoles, there was virtually no African food here. Most Africans live in the south of Spain where the climate is warmer. I moved here from the south of England where a few hours journey on trains and the London Underground got me to Brixton Station, Dalston or Peckham markets. There is abundance of Nigerian food ingredients in these markets, so much that Peckham is nicknamed Little Lagos. So you can imagine my shock at the alternatives that were used for Nigerian foods when I got here. And with my very Igbotic Nigerian taste buds? Diawas serious wahala o.

Long story short, slowly but steadily, more Africans starting moving here to settle and with that came Pakistani shops. The Pakistani shop owners sure know how to do business! They were the only ones that sold even the closest ingredients for Nigerian cooking and I set out on a mission to introduce Nigerian food to them. I would show them photos of our ingredients and beg them to look for those when they get to France – most of them buy food items from France. And yes, beg them because they were reluctant as they did not know how well those would sell. With time, they started stocking original palm oil – in place of the coloured water they used to sell, habanero/Scotch bonnet peppers – in addition to the sweet peppers they sell, yams, cocoyams, name it!

Shortly after, even our local supermarkets began to sell African food ingredients – they buy most of them from South America. Many South Americans live here and we are lucky to have lots of food in common with them. The “exotic” food section of my local supermarket makes me so happy! You need to see how I jump up and down like a kid in a toy shop whenever I see a new addition to this section.

Here are some photos of the food items that I find in this section. If you live in Spain, these photos were taken in AlCampo Supermarket. Enjoy!

Coconuts
Use coconuts for making coconut oil, blend them with Tiger Nuts when making Tiger Nut Drink (Kunun Aya). You can extract the coconut milk and use for Nigerian Coconut Rice.

Cassava and Plantains
Use Cassava to make raw Cassava Fufu from scratch then prepare the Cassava Fufu meal and make starch from scratch. Chai! Very traditional food outside Naija! You can also make Bobozee with cassava tubers.

Tamarind and Cayenne Peppers
Tamarind (Tsamiya) is used in different ways by people all over the world. Nigerians add it to Kunun Gyada, extract the juice for Kunun Tsamiya and Kankaran Tsamiya. Tamarind is the same family as Velvet Tamarind (Icheku) so it tastes like Icheku.

Beside Tamarind, you’ll see fresh cayenne peppers, the next best peppers after habanero and scotch bonnet peppers.

Mango and Pawpaw
It’s quite hard to find juicy mangoes here but we are thankful to have them at all for when the cravings come. πŸ˜€ My favourite mangoes are the ones we call German mangoes and they are not here.

Plum Tomatoes
Yes, our Tomato Jos (Plum Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes), the best tomatoes for making Nigerian red stew are here. They have always been here though – tomate pera in Spanish.

Tribelli Peppers
These are my latest finds! These Tribelli peppers are my current best alternative for our Tatashe peppers. They are not spicy though. They produce such red juices that appetizingly colour Nigerian Moi Moi. I also use these with Scotch bonnet peppers when preparing Peppered Chicken. They started selling these peppers in my local supermarket only recently. Before then it used to be just the red Italian and red bell peppers which do not have enough redness in them. The bell peppers contain too much water and the texture is not the same as tatashe.

Guiness Stout
We can also buy original Guinness, the type we have in Nigeria, here. There used to be only Draught Guinness. πŸ™ I love Guinness Stout mixed with Fanta Orange. *Dodges darts thrown by my Irish friends. πŸ˜€ Don’t stone me for this, you need to try this mixture.

Malt Drink
These are the most common malt drinks we can buy here. They are not as rich as Malta Guinness or Vita Malt. For those ones we have to go to the bigger neighbouring city where more Nigerians live.

Grenadine Syrup
Grenadine Syrup is an important ingredient in Nigerian Chapman.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. I will share more Nigerian ingredients that I can buy here and the non Nigerian ones that are great alternatives as I take more photos.

With this post, I am joining Jackie on her Echoes of my Neighbourhood series. πŸ˜‰

♥ ♥ ♥
Flo

Comments

  1. Aunty Flo, you really echoed my sentiments on living and eating outside Nigeria! However I stay in Houston where it is almost impossible to not see a Nigerian at least once a day. So we have many African stores, but I still miss fresh Ugu, bitter leaf, in short I miss the freshness of all the vegetables one can get so readily at Nigerian local markets. It was so bad when I first moved that I think I became depressed.
    Slowly I have got used to the alternatives, but I have made a list of things I will binge on when next I am in Nigeria. Love your blog!

    • Amaka you are all enjoying traditional Nigerian food over there in Houston with the African food stores at every corner. And with your Puff Puff and Moi Moi parties? Living in Houston or Dallas is like living in Nigeria sef. πŸ™‚

      But yes, the nostalgia is a serious issue and I feel you when you say you were depressed about that. Anaro m akocha what I went through the first time I came here. Chai!

      If you have a back garden, maybe you can plant Ugu there. Houston has similar climate to Naija so they will do well. So nne add ugu seeds to that list.

      Whenever I have someone coming from Naija or we travel home, I stock up on fresh vegetables: ugu, ora, scent leaves and uziza. When I come back, I wash and slice them, divide into single use batches and put in my freezer. To use, I just bring one pack out of the freezer and throw straight into the soup/stew while it is still frozen and it will defrost in the soup. The only thing that happens is that the vegetable will be dark in the stew/soup but you still get the very fresh taste and the aroma is intact. This is especially the case for ora, scent leaves and uziza. I do not load up on ugu so much because my taste buds have adjusted to spinach. LOL

      I also bring back freshly washed bitter leaves and throw them into the freezer when I come back. When they finish, I continue with my dry ones. O di egwu really but we remain thankful for the few Nigerian food we are able to enjoy.

      Much love to you too nne! Thanks! <3

  2. Lol. The struggle to find naija ingredients while living in Europe is real. Though I live in Vienna and there are quite some African shops here, I don’t fail to stock up whenever I go home because the prices of most of these things here would almost make you cry when you compare them to their prices at home.

    • Exactly Uju! And nothing beats the ingredients you handpicked by yourself.
      Let’s keep hoping and praying that one day, there will be Nigerian food in abundance in all the corners of the world because there are Nigerians everywhere. πŸ™‚

  3. I’m totally dazzled by the tomatoes and peppers!

    • Aren’t they so unbelievably fresh Kim? Even when I am not buying those peppers, I still go and stroll by that aisle. They are one of the most satisfying sights. πŸ™‚

  4. John Chinenye says:

    Good All
    Am really happy that Nigerians are every where as that makes us one big family. Nigerian foods are so sweet especially the egusi soup with goat meat.
    so in other not to miss out on any of your desired nigerian food ingredients such as Ogbono, Crayfish, Dried Pepper, Egusi, Garri, Ginger, Ukazi leaf etc. i can actually supply them to you on request as am a registered and licensed nigerian food stuff exporter with Nigeria Export Promotion Council and my Company is Johbabluji Limited. We deliver so fast. Please just give us a trial and you wont be disappointed. you can reach me on +2348142222270 or john_c1619@yahoo.com

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