Given Nigeria’s ethnic heterogeneity, with over 300 ethnic groups scattered across its 36 states, it’s pretty difficult to settle on a national dish.
But Jollof rice—a spicy rice dish that cuts across ethnic divides—might be as close as it gets.
For one, its main ingredients—rice, groundnut oil, peppers, tomatoes, and onions—are widely consumed and available across the country. In particular, rice has evolved over the course of Nigeria’s history from being a luxury staple to being eaten across low and high-income households. Beyond the ubiquity of its ingredients, some of Jollof’s viability as Nigeria’s national dish also stems from how it has become the subject of banter and debates with West African neighbors who also have varied versions of the dish.
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