Easter Food Traditions in Nigeria

Happy Easter from a filled family table in Nigeria!

Chidera Onyebuchi
26th March 2024
Image credit: Chidera Onyebuchi
The year is 2008. It’s a hot Sunday morning. Your tummy rumbles but you have to help the elders in the kitchen: Mum, Aunty This, Aunty That.

                You are happy though, because Christ is risen and you get to eat Nigerian Fried rice with Salad and as many Fried Chicken as you want. If Aunty This is in a good mood, she might fry soft plantains for you.

                The elders are chewing on Agege bread and gossiping about the woman with the big scarf in church, who sat on the first pew. A large stainless pot of white rice is steaming on the stove. They give you a tray of washed carrots and a grater. The aunties keep the spring onion, carrots, bell peppers, cabbage, white onion. They will cut those into tiny squares.

Your father is in the veranda reading The Sun newspaper. Your brother, Uncle This and Uncle That are struggling with three live chickens. You know what will happen: They will dip them in hot water, peel the feathers, cut into pieces and take them to the kitchen.

The aunties will season with ginger, garlic, salt, Knor, thyme, and purple onion. Once cooked, they will pour the water into the par boiled rice for another round of steaming then fry the chicken. The oil will then be poured into the rice. At this time, the vegetables wil be fried to be mixed with the rice.

The house starts to smell of food. Someone plays Yahooze by Olu Maintain.

Your mum sits on a short wooden stool, the big pot between her legs. She stirs the rice, now green from Curry. She splashes butter on it, stirs then tastes. She asks you to pound fresh red peppers. She tells Aunty This to add more Maggi and Aunty That to slice more onions.

Aunty This is mixing the salad now: Green beans, sweet corn, red onion, cabbage, your grated carrots, baked beans, salad cream.

Food is ready. The aunties set trays for the neighbours: A bowl of fried rice, fried chicken, salad, a bottle of Amstel malta and Don Simon.

You take the trays to the neighbours and they too, bring trays of food, one: the same as your mothers, another: Jollof rice with coleslaw and fried meat.

The neighbours visit, wishing, “Happy Easter!” with hugs and laughter. They thank your mother and ask how she made the food. She does the same. You stay in the kitchen with the aunties, tasting the other mothers’ food.

Your father eats at the dining table: your mother beside him, eating from his food. You sit with your brother, aunties and uncles in the living area to eat as you watch a Nollywood movie.

The year is 2024. You are in Newcastle, your parents: Nigeria. Aunty This: Enugu, Uncle This: Canada, your brother: US.

You wish everyone a Happy Easter on the family groupchat and warm up your left over boiled yam, tomato sauce and scrambled eggs.

AUTHOR: Chidera Onyebuchi - WP account not set up yet

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