Nigerian Foodstuff: A Colourful Spectacle at the Market

Foodstuffs sold at Lagos markets are usually full of colour and variety.

Buying moi-moi leaves from the market (2019) by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

Step inside the colourful food markets of Nigeria

Nigeria is known for its incredible markets where locals sell their produce which come in the most extraordinary colours, shapes and tastes. Here's a selection from Ajah, Sandgrouse and Sangotedo markets in Lagos. 

Vegetable oil and palm oil (2019)The Centenary Project

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is a key ingredient in many Nigerian dishes, such as stews, sauces, fried foods, rice variants and more. There are many local and imported brands of vegetable oil to choose from.

Smoked mackarels (2019)The Centenary Project

Smoked dry fish

Smoked dry fish is an important ingredient in many soups and stews. It is popularly called panla in the market, and it is delicious. It transforms dishes with its sweet taste and rich smell and flavor.

Smoked mackarels in skewers (2019)The Centenary Project

Smoked Titus

Smoked Titus is sold whole in the market. It is a great and flavor-filled addition to soups and stews.

Chili pepper (2019)The Centenary Project

Chilli pepper

Chilli pepper is a long red pepper sold in the market. It is hot and spicy and used to prepare stews in Nigeria. Yorubas call it "ata ijosi" or "sombo".

Red habanero pepper (2019)The Centenary Project

Scotch bonnet

Scotch bonnet is a red pepper sold in the market and used in almost every dish in Nigeria. It is popularly called "ata rodo" in the market.

Red bell pepper (2019)The Centenary Project

Scotch bonnet, sold in plates

Scotch bonnet is sold in little plates in the market.

Habanero pepper (2019)The Centenary Project

Yellow scotch bonnet

The yellow "ata rodo" is extra spicy and has more pepper than the red version. It is majorly used in soups.

Tomatoes (2019)The Centenary Project

Fresh tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes are sold all over the market place. Some sellers push them on wheelbarrows while others have stalls where they display them. They are a major ingredient in Nigerian stew.

Onions (2019)The Centenary Project

Fresh onions

Fresh onions are sold in wheelbarrows or in stalls in the market. They are used for stews and in many other dishes.

Pepper and onions (2019)The Centenary Project

Making a typical Nigerian stew

Nigerian stew consists of various peppers, tomatoes and onions, all blended together and cooked with vegetable oil and spices of choice.

Tomato and pepper puree (2019)The Centenary Project

Blending ingredients for stew

There are locally-made industrial machines used to blend in the market, so most people blend their stew mix in the market before going home. This reduces their cooking time.

Coconuts, ginger, garlic, dried pepper and pepper soup spices (2019)The Centenary Project

Dried peppers and spices

Dried peppers and spices such as ginger, garlic, ground peppersoup spices and fresh coconuts are on display.

Okra (2019)The Centenary Project


Fresh okras are sold in the market. Some of them are grated and sold in nylon bags to help reduce cooking time at home, while others are sold fresh and whole, in small plastic plates. These plates have prices attached to them.

Waterleaf (2019)The Centenary Project


Waterleaf (Talinum triangulare) is one of the main ingredients for preparing edikaikong soup. The Igbos also have a soup called waterleaf soup.

Fluted Pumpkin leaves (Ugwu) (2019)The Centenary Project


Ugu is one of the most common Nigerian vegetables. It is used in edikaikong soup, egusi soup, ogbono soup and other dishes as well.

Chopping fluted pumpkin leaves (2019)The Centenary Project

Chop Chop

Ugu is sliced in the market at an extra fee to the buyer. It makes cooking easier for the buyer.

White corn meal (2019)The Centenary Project


Eko is a meal prepared with ogi, a fermented cereal pudding made from maize, millet or sorghum. The ogi is prepared and immediately wrapped in banana leaves or white nylon bags. It can be eaten in many ways, with any kind of soup or with milk and sugar.

Spring onions (2019)The Centenary Project

Spring onions

Spring onions, also known as scallions, is one of the main ingredients in Nigerian fried rice. It has a strong bitter-sweet flavor.

Fresh vegetables on display (2019)The Centenary Project

Fried rice and salad ingredients

Ingredients for fried rice and salad are sold together in the market. They include green peppers, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, carrots, peas, runner beans, garlic, lemon, cabbage, beetroot.

Garlic wrapped in nylons (2019)The Centenary Project


Garlic is a superfood that is enjoyed a lot by Nigerians. It is either eaten raw or added to smoothies and juices. It is also added to a lot of dishes like soups, stews, and rice variants.

Oil palm fruits (2019)The Centenary Project

Palm kernel

Palm kernel is an edible seed belonging to the oil palm fruit. It is used to prepare banga soup, banga stew, abak atama and obe eyin ikpogiri.

Crayfish (2019)The Centenary Project


Crayfish is a Nigerian spice that is used all over the country. It is caught fresh in the water, dried and ground to fine powder, and is incorporated into almost every dish.

Dried melon seeds (2019)The Centenary Project

Ogbono seeds

Ogbono seeds are sold in the market. They are mostly planted in the south-eastern part of the country and are finely ground to a powder before they can be cooked.

Grains of selim pepper (Uda) (2019)The Centenary Project

African Pepper

African pepper, also known as Grains of Selim, consists of skin and seeds. The seeds are bitter. The skin is commonly used in pepper soups and other kinds of soups. It is also used to purify water and is added to palm wine as a flavourer.

Yanghanyanghan (2019)The Centenary Project


Uyayak is also known as Tetrapleura tetraptera. It has a sweet aroma and is incorporated into peppersoup after it has been ground to powder.

Black pepper (2019)The Centenary Project


Uziza is a spice that is used to prepare peppersoup due to its rich flavor and smell. It is also called piper guineense. Yorubas call it Iyere, Igbos call it Uziza and Ibibios call it Edusa.

Cloves (2019)The Centenary Project


The English name for kanafuru is cloves. It is an aromatic spice that Nigerians incorporate into peppersoup, especially the peppersoup cooked for women that have just had babies. It is famed for its healing powers. Kanafuru is also used in local herbal drinks like agbo and aseje, which are drinks used to detox the system and flush out excess sugar.

Tumeric (2019)The Centenary Project

Ground turmeric

Ground turmeric is a herb that is incorporated into several Nigerian dishes like jollof rice, other rice variants, soups, smoothies and juices.

Ginger (2019)The Centenary Project

Fresh turmeric

Fresh turmeric is also sold in the market and also used in soups, stews, smoothies, juices and rice and pasta meals.

Liquorice 'Banga stick' (2019)The Centenary Project

Banga stick

Banga stick is used to spice up banga soup. It gives the soup a rich, sweet flavor and taste. It is washed and put into the soup as it cooks. Once the soup is ready, the banga stick is removed.

Potash stone (Kaun) (2019)The Centenary Project

Kaun/ Akaun

Kaun is potash. It is used to cook meats as it makes it soften faster, and it is also added to soups and stews to thicken them. Many pregnant women crave it and lick it during pregnancy.

Chopped fluted pumpkin leaves, pepper, ginger, onions, smoked mackerels and a bottle of palm oil (2019)The Centenary Project

Home sweet home

It's time to prepare and put together all the lovely ingredients into delicious dishes.

Credits: Story

Curator: Patrick Enaholo
Research: Emem Akpabio
Photography Supervisor: Omotunde Omojola
Photography: Ibukun Akinjobi
Text: Emem Akpabio
Text editing: Patrick Enaholo / Munachim Amah

© The Centenary Project

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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