Where do I start from with Nigerian spices? We have an entire smorgasbord of them. Not one person knows all Nigerian spices, I tell you. The bank of information is too large. Many of us like me, keep updating our knowledge from that bank regularly. There are some common ones, which will introduce you to the colourful world of Nigerian spices. They are
Uziza seeds – also known as pieper guinesse.
Uziza seeds are a hot spicy, and slightly bitter seeds which are mostly ground into a fine powder and used to flavour soups and stews such as peppersoup and groundnut soup. It is also a fantastic substitute for recipes that call for black pepper. As with black pepper, you only need a little, otherwise it will become overpowering and bitter
Konafuru – also known as cloves
Uda – also known as negro pepper
Cameroon pepper – also known as Nsukka pepper. This is a dried chilli that has an additional flavour, apart from the heat that it brings to a dish. Cameroon pepper is used in soups and stews.
The Chinese have their 5 spice, the English have their all spice, the Italians have, Italian seasoning, the Moroccans have Ras-El-Hanout, what am I getting at, well Nigeria also has its indigenous spice mixes. Of note are
Peppersoup spices – this is a light brown powder that contains a fine balance of spices namely ehuru (calabash nutmeg), Uda, Uziza, Cameroon pepper, dried ginger, and so much more. The peppersoup spice powder mix has become so mainstream, that many of us cooks no longer knows what goes into it. It is truly becoming a lost art, as the convenience the powder offers, makes it the go-to choice. Even more experienced cooks go for the powder, as the balance of the spices truly is a delicate art. Use too much of one thing, and the entire spice mix goes downhill. For many of us, we have select women in the open markets who grind our spice mix for us. I hope these women pass on their knowledge to close members of the family, otherwise the knowledge will pass away with them.
Yaji, commonly called suya spice. If you don’t know what suya is, may I pause to hug you, and tell you, your food experience is sorely lacking. Nigerians, like the Americans love their meats and Suya is a national treasure. Think of the famous American barbecues, our Nigerian equivalent is suya. Meat is flattened, and roasted over an open grill. it is then seasoned with this magical spice mix, that is made with groundnuts, cayenne pepper, salt, bouillion cubes and ground ginger. Like the peppersoup mix, the balance of flavours is also crucial to the taste. Yaji is so delicious, it can be eaten just buy itself.
This one I am totally in the dark of what goes into it. A well kept secret of women of the Niger Delta. As with the other two spice mixes, it also comes in a powder that is dark brown and very pungent. banga spices are used in dishes made with palm fruit such as Banga Soup and Banga rice.
More details to be added soon