Well fellow travelers, my excursions have taken me out of Asia (till next time!) and on to Africa. More specifically, to Africa’s most populous country: Nigeria. I have had Nigerian food a few times – both in restaurants and friends’ kitchens – but this is my first time exploring the full breadth of this diverse cuisine. One of the things I am struck by is how foundational rice is to Nigerian cuisine–specifically long grain rice. Since it forms the base of so many of my favorite Nigerian dishes, I wanted to give it a proper shout out.
Why Long Grain Rice?
Long grain rice, as I found out, is the preferred type of rice for most Nigerians because of its distinct aroma and texture. It has a nutty, earthy flavor/aroma that I just can’t get enough of. In Nigerian culture, rice is a symbol of abundance and is often served during special occasions such as weddings, funerals, and festivals. Since I was in Nigeria in April, during the lively Easter festivities, I can certainly attest to the latter (side note: they get down for Easter here. My feet are still sore from all the dancing. #HurtsSoGood). Long grain rice is also a popular choice for everyday meals and is typically served with stews, sauces, or vegetables.
One of the most significant advantages of long grain rice is its nutritional value. It is rich in carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of energy and can help maintain a healthy digestive system. It is also low in fat and sodium, making it a healthy choice for people looking to manage their weight and blood pressure. Long grain rice’s health benefits make me feel a lot better about eating literal pounds of it during my stay in Nigeria!
Popular Long Grain Rice Dishes
Long grain rice forms the base of several popular Nigerian dishes. One of the most popular is Jollof rice. It is a one-pot dish made by combining rice with a tomato-based sauce, spices, and vegetables. Jollof rice is a beloved dish in West Africa, and there are various versions of it across the region. In Nigeria, Jollof rice is often served with fried plantains and chicken. I’ll have more to say about this iconic dish later. I miiiight even have a recipe for you, wink-wink.
Another popular dish that uses long grain rice is fried rice. It is made by frying cooked rice with vegetables, eggs, and protein, such as chicken or shrimp. I came across a tofu fried rice that – as it turns out – is the perfect hangover cure (long story). In Nigeria, fried rice is one of those versatile dishes that can be eaten as a quick lunch, or as part of a flavorful spread at parties and special occasions. And if there’s one thing I took away from this trip, it’s that I will definitely be serving a giant plate of fried rice at my future parties. And you’re all invited.
My Love Affair With Long Grain Rice
In Nigeria, I ate long grain rice in just about every conceivable setting: home kitchens, restaurants, street stalls, and parties. And I still haven’t had my fill. If you have a hard time getting excited about rice, A) you’re definitely not related to me, and B) you haven’t had all the flavorful rice dishes that Nigeria has to offer. Even after a couple of weeks there, I feel like I barely scratched the surface.
If you enjoyed this article or have suggestions on how we can improve it, please leave us a comment below. Also, make sure to check out other articles I’ve created or stories I’ve written about food culture – here.