image source: zikoko

Nigerian foods are quite typical. It usually involves a soup and a ‘swallow’.  We call them swallow because you don’t chew these foods, you swallow them. Except you’re one of the exceptions, the people that chew ‘swallow’ foods. I’ve seen a couple of people like that in my lifetime. And I may not grasp the method behind it. Lol.

These popular Nigerian swallows, basically go with soups. They are starchy foods that are cooked to a dense paste and eaten with various soups. You eat these foods with your fingers by taking a morsel of paste, and dipping it in soup, then swallowing it.


Here’s a list of popular Nigerian swallows;



This is arguably the most popular Nigerian swallow. Also known as garri, eba is made from dried and grated cassava. It contains high level of carbohydrates. In the west, white garri is more popular than yellow garri. The color difference is from the methods of processing of the cassava. The color is gotten by adding palm oil.

Pounded Yam

Pounded yam, also known as iyan, is one of the many yam recipes eaten in Nigeria. As the name suggests, it is boiled white yam that has been pounded until it becomes homogenous and semi-stretchy dough.


Most popular in the west and Mostly eaten with ewedu or gbegiri. Amala is popularly prepared from yam skins and is locally known as àmàlà iṣu. Once the yams skins are processed, the flour (known as elubo) itself is white in color but it turns to its characteristic rich brown color when added to water and cooked.

Plantain Amala

I got to know about this from my mum. As she grew older, she got more picky with her swallow choices. Plantain Amala is an alternative amala recipe, prepared by blending and cooking unripe plantains until the soft dough forms. Eating plantain amala can help one maintain resilient skin, as the plantain itself is a good source vitamin A, with 37.5% per 100g. It also contains adequate levels of potassium, which is an important factor in stabilizing blood pressure and heart rate.


Fufu is my personal favorite swallow. It is a staple food in many African countries that is made from fermented and grounded starchy cassava roots and is a great side dish to any Nigerian soup.

Tuwo Shinkafa

Tuwo shinkafa is a thick rice pudding popularly eaten in the northern part of Nigeria. It is locally prepared from short-grain rice that is cooked pulp, but can also be made using rice flour.


Semolina is a coarse and fibre-rich particle made from durum wheat, which is also used in making pasta. It is low in fat and high in carbohydrate, offering a lot of energy as well as some important minerals like vitamin B and E. It is similar to semovita.


Semovita is a very easy Nigerian swallow to prepare, thus it is a good substitute for pounded yam and amala, which are more difficult to cook. Its particles are coarse, making it a more textured swallow similar to Eba, but without the slight vinegar/sour taste. Because of its high energy content, it is beneficial to individuals trying to gain weight.