Appetizers are generally regarded as food taken before the main meal. That is, they are served before the main dish as a way to gain an appetite. They are usually served in small portions that are not meant to satisfy but to prepare the person for the main dish. They are usually served in events like weddings and formal dinners.
In Nigeria, appetizers are also taken at occasions and are also available on menus in restaurants and hotels. But many people enjoy appetizers at home where there are sometimes taken between meals, sometimes as a snack. In Nigeria, appetizers can be gotten on the street or be made at home. Some do not require any cooking while others are best enjoyed hot.
In this article, we would be exploring some popular healthy Nigerian appetizers.
Healthy Nigerian Appetizers
Our list of the healthy Nigerian appetizers are basically the most common Nigerian appetizers, but also the really healthy and nutritious ones:
1. Corn and Pear
Also called corn and ube, which is the Igbo name for pear, it is enjoyed by people around the country, irrespective of ethnicity. Because corn is not available all year round, it is regarded as a seasonal appetizer, only eaten during the season of corn, although pear may always be available. Corn and pear are enjoyed because it is such a wonderful combination. The corn is boiled in salted water till it is soft. The Nigerian pear is soaked in hot water until it is also soft and maybe sprinkled with some salt. The corn is eaten with the puree from the pear. Corn and pear are usually enjoyed in the evening, just before dinner. Corn contains dietary fibre which aids digestion, making it a very good appetizer.
2. Plantain Chips
Plantain chips is eaten as an appetizer or a snack, and it can either be bought or made at home. It has a crunchy, sweet taste. Although unripe plantain is mostly used, some people use ripe plantain for better taste. The plantain is cut into thin slices of varying sizes, which are then fried in hot oil. The slices are usually salted, but sugar is often added. It is then left to cool before it is eaten. Plantain chips are, at times, served at occasions for guests to eat before the main dish is served. Because plantain has its time, the availability of this snack is also seasonal.
Suya, or grilled meat, is a popular food enjoyed by all. It is a northern delicacy that has found its way into the mouth and hearts of everyone in the country and even beyond. The method of preparation is almost similar to the conventional act of grilling or preparing barbecue, but there are things that set it apart. The spices used are prepared by the sellers and are predominantly spices you find in the north, which give suya its hot, unique taste. Meat, which could be beef or chicken, is roasted on a grill over a fire. The intensity of the fire is increased or reduced based on how well done the meat is. Suya is usually eaten in the evening, as that is the time the vendors are out and is the best example of evening appetizer in Nigeria. It is also served in events as an appetizer.
Chin-chin is an appetizer that keeps the jaws busy, literally. It is a crunchy snack in the form of small balls or cubes or thin strips. It can be bought from shops, but many people prefer to make theirs because it is easy to do so. Chin-chin is a form of pastry, with the usual ingredients of flour, water, sugar, butter, milk. It is fried in then stretched and cut into small forms before being fried. It is best enjoyed when cool. Chin-chin is served in small portions, which may contain many chin-chin but could be finished in just a few mouthfuls. It is a favourite at events and even restaurants.
5. Garden Eggs and Groundnut Paste
Another really healthy Nigerian appetizer is the exceptional combo of garden eggs and groundnut paste. Garden egg is an edible fruit that is rich in fibre and water content. While groundnut paste is simply a local kind of peanut butter. Groundnut paste is also known as Ose Oji, Okwo Ose or Okwu Oji. It is creamy, delicious and highly proteinous.
The two are perfect combo, as groundnut paste is smeared on the garden eggs and eaten raw. This appetizer is usually eaten in traditional occasions, such as traditional wedding ceremonies.
6. Small Chops
One could say that no Nigerian party is complete without small chops, and they would not be wrong. They are also referred to as finger foods because they are small and are meant to be eaten with just two fingers. Some common example of small chops include:
Spring rolls: fried pastry with vegetable and meat in the wrap. Another great option is the Nigerian egg roll.
Puff puff: a pastry rolled into balls. Yeast is added to the mix to make it rise.
Asun: these are fried, soft meat cut into small bits, then dipped in pepper sauce.
Other Healthy Nigerian Appetizers:
Some other noteworthy appetizer that can in Nigeria include:
- Peppered gizzard
- Pepper snails
- Boli (Roasted plantain)