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Why Nigerians Are Crazy About Rice

Nigerians don’t joke with their rice. Whether it be jollof, fried, or white – don’t mess with a Nigerian’s plate of rice. It’s a must have at parties and to celebrate religious holidays. 

Take a moment to imagine a Nigeria without rice… Yes o! Forget about your favorite party jollof and every other orishirishi style of rice preparation, how would you cope? What would you replace rice with?

Growing up, eating rice was something we looked forward to. I vividly remember what days we had rice: Tuesday dinner, Friday dinner and Sunday lunch, with the rice on Sunday being the most special. Tuesday and Fridays were usually rice and stew.

Many years before a lot of us were born, rice was a luxury, eaten once in a while, but today, it has become staple in most Nigerian households.

In recent times, I don’t believe any other crop has been subjected to as much attention as rice; from the dazzling amount spent by Nigeria for rice imports to the imports cabal to the fraud as it concerned the rice import quota scheme, news which broke in 2015 and then to the quest by the agricultural sector for Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.

The Central Bank of Nigeria disclosed in 2014 that Nigeria spent about N800billion yearly on the importation of rice. Unofficial imports routed through Cotonou and other close West African countries corridors were not captured in the figure projected by the bank. The governor of Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, in 2015, said the Federal Government spent $2.41 billion on rice importation between January 2012 and May 2015. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture also revealed at the time that on the average, Nigeria spent N1billion daily on rice importation. It is hoped that we will hit the self-sufficiency mark in a few short years and be less dependent on imports which will in turn lead to employment and economic growth.

No doubt, the rice matter is both serious business and a serious matter in Nigeria!

With the wide variety of rice delicacies in Nigeria, it isn’t difficult to see why this commodity called rice has got us all loving up. Here is a rundown of some rice dishes that explains why.

Jollof rice/party jollof

Whether it is party jollof rice or homemade jollof rice, you cannot go wrong with jollof, a winner every time for whatever occasion. I think our love for jollof rice is responsible for a large quantity of the importation. Yes o, blame it on jollof! We can talk about jollof rice from now till next year but we wouldn’t bore you because we know you totally “gerrit”! We also know that you get why it is the first on the list!

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Native jollof rice

Also called palm oil rice or Iwuk Edesi by the Efiks, this native style jollof rice made with palm oil, crayfish and dry fish and finished with some green vegetable or herb will make you forget your name!

Coconut rice

Rice with a rich coconut flavor from being cooked with fresh coconut milk is another reason why we love rice!

Ofada rice and sauce

Ofada rice and sauce… Hmmm, that is ehn! Just give us this and our lives are alright! We cannot do without our ofada o! One great thing about ofada is that it is made with our locally grown rice and no other rice will do, no other rice hits that spot.

Fried rice

Made in a variety of ways using mixed vegetables and with the addition of seafood or meats like shrimp, liver, chicken, beef and so on, fried rice is one rice dish that has become staple. You gotta love the rice that has all the “mede mede” added to it!

White rice with…

Serving plain rice with buka stew or a wide range of vegetable stews and soups from efo riro to edikang ikong and other vegetable sauces,  takes plain rice from ordinary to extraordinary when paired with these special Nigerian stews and soups. Pass us some steaming white rice, please.

Masa (waina)

This northern Nigerian dish is made of rice mixed into a light batter and fried in a masa pan with minimal oil rather than deep fried like puff puff. It is either served with a savory accompaniment like suya or stew or drizzled with honey for a sweet dish or lovely dessert. Yum!

“Are you feeling good today, these things got us thanking God for riiiccee, we can’t explaaain…”

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