Roasted street food delights: five tasty meals

Roasted meals make an evening walk through the streets of Lagos, Port Harcourt and Benin a delicious delight.

Chefs standing in front of a grill (2019) by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

Welcome to street food in Nigeria!

In urban cities in Nigeria like Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Abuja and many others, it is always a pleasure to stop by at a street food joint to buy some boli, roasted yam, grilled fish or suya. These are tasty delicacies that have become a delight for anyone who wants a quick but delicious snack.

Roasted Plantain (2019) by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

#1: Roasted plantain

Roasted plantain (called "boli" in the South-west and "bole" in the South-south of Nigeria) is usually prepared locally on the streets of Lagos and other cities in Nigeria using a charcoal grill.

Local "Boli" Grill (2019) by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

A special delicacy

Boli is usually grilled on a metal bowl filled with charcoal and a wired gauze for the heat to roast through the plantain.

Smoked Yam (2019) by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

#2: Roasted yam

Roasted yam is a meal prepared with the local grill and usually served with peppered palm oil sauce in plastic packs. The size of the yam varies, but it can be cut into large or small pieces depending on what is preferred.

Roasted Yam and Sauce (2019)The Centenary Project

Served on the streets

On the streets, palm oil sauce may be sold and served with the roasted yam to buyers.

Yam and Plantain Grilled To Perfection (2019)The Centenary Project

Handling with care and skill

Boli and roasted yam are common in many parts of Nigeria, but preparing them needs some level of skill and dexterity.

The plantain used is often ripe (known by the yellow colour) and contrasts with the white slices of yam laid out on the grill.

A Plate Of Roasts (2019)The Centenary Project

Street food is real food!

Street food isn't only to be eaten outdoors. It can be served indoors with other accompaniments. For example, boli can be served with fried yam along with some tomato sauce, onions and leafy vegetable (uziza).

Grilled fish with roasted plantain on a grill (2019) by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

#3: Grilled fish

Grilled fish is spiced and roasted on the grill. It is usually prepared using whole fish which could be Tilapia, Cat fish, Croaker or any other fish of choice.

Roasted Titus Fish (2019)The Centenary Project

Cut as you like

The fish can be cut into smaller parts before it is placed on the grill.

Grilled Fish and Chips (2019) by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

Grilled fish and chips

A whole grilled fish can be served with fried potatoes and tomato sauce. It is a popular street food in Nigeria.

Suya, spices and oil on a grill (2019) by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

#4: Suya

Suya is probably the most popular street food. It is skewered meat that is roasted and served with spices which give it a unique aroma and taste.

Suya Seller Sprinkling Spices (2019)The Centenary Project

Eyes on the roast

Roasting meat on the grill can take time depending on the type and state of the meat. The chef needs to monitor the meat closely so that it doesn't get burnt.

Suya for sale (2019) by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

Always a delicacy

Depending on the spice used, the colour of suya could vary from dark orange to brick red. In whichever colour it turns out, suya is always a delicacy.

Suya "Roasted Beef" (2019) by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

Skewered suya

Skewered suya can be served on a dish, with green pepper and a bottle of beer.

Corns roasting on a grill (2019)The Centenary Project

#5: Roasted corn

Roasted corn is a very popular outdoor snack in many parts of Nigeria. It is common to find them during the rainy season especially in the South of the country.

African pear and roasted corn (2019)The Centenary Project

Enjoyed with African pear

Roasted corn is most popularly taken with a purple African pear (bush pear) also known as "ube" in Igbo. African pears are roasted on hot coals or soaked in freshly boiled water to prepare them for consumption. When cooked, they taste like avocado.

Roasted corn with "Ube" (purple african pear) (2019)The Centenary Project

A tasty combination

The combination of roasted corn and pear is known by the Yorubas as "agbado yinyan" but is a delicacy enjoyed by all ethnic groups.

Credits: Story

Curator: Patrick Enaholo
Research: Omotunde Omojola
Photography: Chris Udoh / Ibukun Akinjobi
Text: Patrick Enaholo
Text editing: 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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