Culinary trends come and go regularly. Sometimes it might be a dish, at other times a region’s entire style. Chefs, restaurants, and food markets across the world are constantly in search of the next big thing, a feast that will be sure to pique the interest of customers and bring an amazing dish to the table. Occasionally, some dishes and culinary styles persist long after their initial popularity recedes. Churros, for example, remain a favourite UK street food for many, and almost every town will have its own cherished Indian restaurant nearby.
As we look to the future, it seems that there is already clear favour on the international culinary scene, one that is placing Nigerian cuisine at the forefront of food trends. Here, we look at some of the dishes that are being celebrated across the world, in restaurants and markets, to show you not only why this West African food deserves its coming popularity but also why it may be more than simply a flash in the pan.
Perhaps the most distinct feature of Nigerian cuisine is its complex and alluring flavour spectrum. From the moreish combination of rich nuts and aromatic herbs to its marrying of sweet ingredients with smoky spice. The impressive array of Nigerian cuisine draws from the food history and creativity of a number of ethnic groups, each of which add their own signature to the country’s ubiquitous ingredients, such as groundnut oil, peppers, and peanuts.
The flavour of each dish has competition, with the spotlight often being stolen by Nigerian cuisine’s vibrant colours. Dishes typically have an amazing presentation, full of energy and vitality. Even seemingly modest foods, such as the nation’s favourite jollof rice, is served with an impressive orange profile. Even grilled meats are made exciting with the addition of brilliant marinades, tsire, and suya spices.
As the world seeks to improve its relationship between diet and climate, a greater number of food influencers are on the lookout for international plant-based recipes. While Nigerian cuisine is abundant with various meats and offal, it also has an extensive selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes, putting it on the map of many chefs. Meat-free Nigerian dishes are appearing more commonly within the UK, not only in restaurants but supermarkets too, with products like Jollof Rice by VaroFoods being widely available.
Despite Africa’s size, much of its cuisine remains unknown outside of its borders. For this reason, international chefs are turning their attention to the novelty of its many foods and ingredients, with Nigeria being one of the most sought after.
In addition to its unique flavour profiles, there are also a number of fascinating ingredients that yet remain lesser used. Plantain, for example, is now being heralded by chefs who have been inspired by West Africa’s dodo. Others are turning to gizzard, ponmo, and moin moin, as restaurants seek to be the first to find the next dish that will captivate customers.