Are you a tourist, a foodie, or simply a Nigerian who hasn’t been to the Northern part, and plans to do so? Whatever the situation, allow me to be your food guide, to some weirdly named finger-licking Northern Nigerian cuisines. Before then, let’s take a little detour and see how it all started.

Nigeria is blessed with over 200 ethnic groups and almost 500 languages, across its six geopolitical zones. These zones have one thing in common, a love for rich, tasty, spicy, and aromatic food. These foods are uniquely made with certain ingredients found in their various zones, and it becomes the signature food of that particular region.

Be it Amala and Ewedu from the South West, Pounded Yam and Egusi from the East, Black soup from Edo, Afang Soup by the Efik and Ibibio, Banga soup from the Urhobos, Nigerians have a taste for spicy foods.

The northern part of the country too, is not left behind for its rich cuisine. Therefore this article will focus on 12 Northern Nigerian foods everyone must try at least once.

Northern Nigerian Foods Everyone Must Try At Least Once

1. Tuwo (Swallow)

This is a thick pudding made from different types of grains and served with different soups, and is a very popular cuisine in Northern Nigeria.

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Tuwo and Miyan Kuka is a common food in northern Nigeria Photo credits: Cookpad.com

We have Tuwon Shinkafa (rice swallow), Tuwon Masara (maize swallow), Tuwon Dawa (guinea corn swallow). The soups are, Miyan Kuka(a soup made with dried baobab leaves turned into powder), Miyan Kubewa( okra soup either fresh or dry)

2. Masa or Waina da Miyan Taushe (rice cake and soup made from green leaves)

This is made from rice and usually served during breakfast with kunu (porridge) by the side.

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Waina or Masa with miyan taushe is a northern Nigerian cuisine mostly served for breakfasts. Picture Credit: Cookpad.com

Speaking of kunu it is the next thing on this list.

3. Kunu (Gruel)

Just like tuwo, this is made from different grains and is a popular cuisine in Northern Nigeria. We have Kunun Shinkafa (rice gruel), Kunun Gyada (gruel made with groundnut paste), Kunun Gero (millet gruel), Kunun Masara (gruel porridge), and Kunun Tsamiya (porridge made with tamarind), Kunun gyada, Kunun aya, etc.

Tiger Nut Milk
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Tiger Nut Milk (Kunun Aya) is one among the numerous kunu prepared in Northern Nigeria.

3. Awara (tofu or Soya bean cake)

This is made from soya beans and is fried in hot oil and eaten with Yaji (ground chili pepper), sometimes dipped in whisked egg before been fried.

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Awara or wara is a special delicacy in northern Nigeria

4. Shinkafa da Wake da Mai (rice and beans and oil)

The North isn’t the North without Shinkafa da wake. It is accompanied with Yaji.

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Shinkafa da wake commonly called Garau-Garau or Garo-garo is a dish that you should definitely try while you are in the region.

The elite form comes garnished with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber by the side. Delicious!

5. Danwake (dumplings)

This right here is my personal favorite. This northern Nigerian cuisine is made from beans or sometimes wheat flour with a little amount of dried baobab leaves powder.

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Danwake or dumpling is another common food that you should definitely try while in Northern Nigeria

This is eaten with yaji and oil too, it is garnished as the Shinkafa da wake and boiled egg.

6. Gurasa (local bread)

This is made mainly from flour and water. It is being prepared and consumed in different ways. We have the “bandashe”, here it is made with ground kuli-kuli (groundnut cake), cabbage, cucumber, tomato, and onion by the side.

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Gurasa, a local specialty most popular in kano can be eaten with ground kuli-kuli and vegetables

It can also be served with the famous Suya.

7. Fate, Gwate or Tere (porridge)

Pronounced as ‘fatai’, Faten tsaki (grain porridge) can be made from acha, rice, or maize, with smoked or dried fish and Alaiyahu (spinach) or Shuwaka (bitter leaf).

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Fate is a popular northern Nigerian food that is made using rice or maize. Credits: Cookpad.com

Other porridge can be made too using yam, beans, or potatoes. You can check for all the recipes you can do with yam here.

8. Dambun Kaza (chicken floss), Dambun Nama (meat floss), or Dambun Shinkafa (rice grits)

Rice is broken into smaller pieces and cooked with vegetables.

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The chicken or meat is shredded and cooked so deliciously into a floss.

9. Taliyar Hausa da Man ja( Hausa Spaghetti and Palm oil)

This is just boiled spaghetti, accompanied by Palm oil and Yaji, but is delicious.

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Make sure to try Taliya and Man ja when next you are in Northern Nigeria. It is a common food there.

Don’t say I didn’t recommend this.

10. Wainar Fulawa (Local Pancake)

Unlike pancake, wainar fulawa is fried with palm oil and consumed with yaji while hot.

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Another popular food in Nigeria is Wainar fulawa (local pancake) fried in palm oil.

11. Suya, Tsire or Balangu (kebab)

I saved the best for the last, this right here, is a good life. It can be made from beef, mutton, chicken, or goat meat, and served with yaji.

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Suya is a special delicacy anywhere in northern Nigeria

There are a lot of delicious foods in Northern Nigeria, I just made mention of a few. You can read a comprehensive list of Northern Nigerian foods and their names in English here.

As you can see, yaji (ground chili) plays a vital role when serving these delicious meals. It is been sold on its own, made with rich ingredients.

So, when next you find yourself in northern Nigeria, you know exactly what to order for in terms of food.

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