Monday 18 March 2024

Cooking Techniques in Nigerian Cuisine | The Art of Fermentation, Drying and Grilling

Nigerian cuisine, rich in flavours and traditions, offers a vast array of techniques that enhance the natural taste of plant-based ingredients. Among these, fermentation, grilling, and drying stand out for their ability to transform simple vegan components into extraordinary dishes.

We’ll explore how each technique is used to create distinct flavours and textures in Nigerian dishes, providing insight into traditional cooking methods and how they can be adapted to modern kitchens. 

Whether you’re looking to experiment with new ingredients or learn more about the rich history of Nigerian cuisine, this article will offer a fascinating insight into the techniques that have helped shape this delicious and diverse cuisine.


Fermentation is a revered practice in Nigerian cuisine, breathing life into dishes with its unique flavours and health benefits. This age-old technique involves the metabolic process of converting carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms, under anaerobic conditions. In the vegan Nigerian kitchen, fermentation is celebrated through dishes such as Ogi (fermented corn porridge), and ingredients/condiments such as Ugba (fermented African oil bean seeds), iru (fermented locust beans) and ogiri (fermented sesame or egusi seeds).

Ogi stands as a testament to the versatility of fermentation. Made from ground corn, millet, or sorghum, this porridge is left to ferment for a few days, developing a sour taste and a slightly tangy aroma. It's typically served as a breakfast dish, sweetened with natural sweeteners and accompanied by fresh fruits, making it a nutritious start to the day.

The condiments iru and ogiri add depth and richness to stews and soups, imparting a wonderful umami taste. With their signature pungent flavours, a little goes a very long way. 

In the production of garri, cassava undergoes fermentation before it is dried and fried. As well as enhancing its flavour, this technique also reduces harmful compounds, making it safe for consumption. 

Fermented yoghurt drinks - such as nono - enjoyed in the northern parts of Nigeria can be made vegan by using soy milk. Other fermented drinks include palm wine, sorghum beer and burukutu (Guinea corn and millet beverage).


Grilling or roasting is another cornerstone of Nigerian cooking, revered for its ability to infuse dishes with a distinct smoky flavour. While traditionally applied to meats, this technique is easily adapted to a vegan diet, highlighting the natural flavours of vegetables, fruits, and plant-based proteins.

Grilled plantains (Boli) are a popular vegan-friendly treat and street food. Ripe plantains are grilled over an open flame until the skin is charred and the inside is tender and sweet. This dish is often served with roasted peanuts, offering a delightful combination of sweet, smoky, and nutty flavours.

Vegan suya can be made using mushrooms or plant proteins such as tofu and seitan. Grilling provides the signature charred flavour that makes this popular street food so iconic. 

Grilled corn (Agbado) is another popular street food that is made by grilling fresh corn cobs over an open flame until they're tender and slightly charred. Served alongside roasted coconut or ube, this makes for a very filling snack. 

Other foods that taste delicious grilled include: yam, sweet potatoes, and tofu (wara).


Drying is a preservation method widely used in Nigerian cuisine, aimed at extending the shelf life of ingredients while concentrating their flavours. This technique is especially valuable in vegan cooking, where dried fruits, vegetables, and grains become staples in the pantry. These dried ingredients also ensure that seasonal produce can be enjoyed year-round.

Dried mushrooms and vegetables are common in Nigerian vegan dishes, rehydrated to bring soups and stews to life. Drying intensifies their umami and savouriness, providing a depth of flavour that is unparalleled. 

Black-eyed peas, cowpeas, and brown beans are often dried, serving as a staple protein source in vegan diets. They're used in dishes akara, moin moin and bean stews.

Certain grains and tubers are also dried and milled into flour. Millet and sorghum flour can be used to make traditional porridges and fermented drinks, while yam is dried and processed into a flour known as ‘elubo’ for making the popular Yoruba dish, amala. 

Herbs such as scent leaf and spices such as ginger and garlic are also dried and used for flavouring an array of traditional dishes.

In the north, greens such as moringa and baobab leaves are dried and powdered, then used to fortify stews and soups. 

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The techniques of fermentation, grilling, and drying are pillars of Nigerian cooking, offering pathways to explore a rich culinary heritage within a vegan diet. By adapting these methods to plant-based ingredients, we can create dishes that are not only deeply rooted in tradition but also cater to a modern, health-conscious lifestyle.

In embracing these techniques, we open the door to a world of culinary creativity, where the essence of Nigerian cooking is preserved, and the delights of vegan cuisine are explored to their fullest. Whether it's through a bowl of tangy Ogi, smoky grilled plantains, or a hearty stew with dried mushrooms, the journey through vegan Nigerian cuisine is one of discovery, tradition, and, above all, taste.

Wednesday 6 March 2024

The Environmental Impact of Veganism

As concerns about climate change and environmental degradation continue to grow, there is an increasing awareness among people about the impact of their dietary habits on the planet. Veganism has gained popularity as a way to reduce carbon emissions, conserve water, and tackle deforestation, among other environmental issues. This article explores the environmental impact of veganism and how adopting a vegan lifestyle can contribute to a healthier planet. From reducing greenhouse gas emissions to preserving biodiversity, we’ll explore the ways in which choosing vegan can help mitigate some of the biggest environmental challenges facing our world today.

  1. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions: Livestock production contributes to 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than transportation. By choosing vegan, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

  2. Saves water: Animal agriculture is responsible for more than one-third of all freshwater consumption in the world. Going vegan saves precious water resources.

  3. Reduces land use: Livestock production is responsible for up to 80% of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, and habitat loss for many other species. By choosing vegan, you help preserve natural habitats.

  4. Reduces pollution: Animal waste is a major source of water and air pollution. Veganism reduces the amount of waste and pollution generated.

  5. Reduces energy use: Vegan diets require less energy to produce compared to animal-based diets, which require energy for growth, transportation, storage, and processing.

  6. Reduces deforestation: The clearing of forests for grazing and feed crop production has devastating effects on ecosystems, biodiversity and the climate. Veganism helps to reduce the demand for feed crops and grazing land.

  7. Reduces ocean dead zones: Livestock manure and fertilizers from crops often end up in nearby rivers and oceans, causing algal blooms and dead zones. Choosing vegan helps prevent this.

  8. Helps preserve ecosystems: The Earth’s ecosystems are being destroyed at an alarming rate, and animal agriculture is a leading cause. Veganism can help preserve ecosystems and biodiversity.

  9. Lowers risk of waterborne diseases: Livestock production is a major contributor to water pollution, which can lead to waterborne diseases. Choosing vegan can help reduce this risk.

  10. Reduces food waste: About one-third of the food produced in the world is wasted. By choosing vegan, you can help reduce food waste and save resources.

  11. Reduces use of antibiotics: Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to public health, and animal agriculture is a major contributor to this problem. Choosing vegan helps reduce the use of antibiotics in agriculture.

  12. Reduces air pollution: Animal agriculture is a significant source of air pollution, which can cause respiratory problems and other health issues. Veganism helps reduce air pollution.

  13. Reduces global hunger: Land that could be used to grow crops for human consumption is instead used to grow feed for livestock. Veganism can help reduce global hunger by freeing up land for food crops.

  14.  Improves soil health: Livestock production is a major contributor to soil degradation and erosion. Choosing vegan helps improve soil health.

  15. Saves energy: Producing animal-based foods generally requires more energy than producing plant-based foods. Veganism helps save energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  16. Reduces the risk of zoonotic diseases: Animal agriculture is a major contributor to zoonotic diseases (diseases that can pass from animals to humans). Veganism helps reduce the risk of these diseases.

  17. Reduces the need for pesticides: Intensive animal agriculture often relies on a heavy use of pesticides and herbicides, which can have negative impacts on human health and the environment. Choosing vegan helps reduce the need for these harmful chemicals.

  18. Lowers risk of climate-related disasters: The impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events, can have devastating effects on communities and ecosystems. Veganism can help reduce the risk of such disasters.

  19. Lowers risk of forest fires: Deforestation often leads to forest fires, which can have catastrophic effects on ecosystems and human communities. Choosing vegan helps reduce the demand for grazing land and feed crops, which contribute to deforestation.

  20.  Reduces water scarcity: Animal agriculture is a major contributor to water scarcity, which puts many communities at risk of water shortages. Going vegan helps reduce water consumption and support water conservation efforts.

  21. Lowers pesticide contamination: Pesticides used in agricultural production can contaminate soil, water, and air, posing risks to human health. Choosing vegan helps reduce the use of these harmful chemicals.

  22. Helps mitigate climate change: Animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, but going vegan can help mitigate its effects and reduce global warming.

  23. Reduces plastic pollution: The growth of animal agriculture has led to a significant increase in plastic waste. Choosing vegan can help reduce plastic pollution.

  24. Preserves biodiversity: Animal agriculture is a leading cause of species extinction and habitat destruction. Veganism helps preserve biodiversity and protect natural ecosystems.

  25. Promotes sustainable practices: By going vegan, you are supporting sustainable agricultural practices that help protect the environment and promote food security.

  26. Supports local communities: Choosing vegan also means supporting local plant-based food producers, who often use sustainable and ethical practices.

  27. Reduces the risk of natural disasters: Climate change and deforestation increase the risk of natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and droughts. Veganism can help reduce these risks.

  28. Helps protect wildlife: Animal agriculture often leads to the destruction of wildlife habitats and the killing of wild animals that are seen as threats to livestock. Veganism helps protect these animals.

In summary, choosing a vegan lifestyle can have a significant positive impact on the environment, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, lowering the risk of natural disasters, preserving biodiversity and ecosystems, and promoting sustainable practices. By making conscious food choices that prioritize a plant-based diet, we can contribute towards a healthier planet and a more sustainable future.