I’m one of the most unadventurous people I know when it comes to food. I’m a creature of habit. But when it comes to some of our staple meals in Nigeria, even my habits get interrupted by changes. Because of this, I have had to find alternative options for four particularly unstable types of food I enjoy. If you also find yourself seeking alternatives to some of our favourite local dishes, the list may be useful to you as well.
Except for my little brother, we all love to eat yams in my home. But wiin the last few months, I had to find an alternative to this cherished food when it was impossible to get affordable yams. Sweet potatoes are much healthier and cheaper food options when yams are out of season and expensive. A friend even mentioned using them to make rather enjoyable swallow, so it might also work for you. Plantains and Irish potatoes are great substitutes as well, especially for dishes like pottage.
I have never really been able to get on the dodo adoration train, but I do enjoy it from time to time. Once it’s out of season though, I simply turn to bananas without blinking. What substitutes you choose will depend on your food needs. If you need plantains for the good old dodo and eggs, I can’t help you o. There’s no real substitute for fried plantain. But, you can eat bananas with rice or use yam flour instead of plantain flour for amala.
I love to cook and eat edikang ikong (vegetable soup) quite a lot for someone who is not from Akwa Ibom. And I also add ugu to a lot of other dishes like yam pottage and okro soup. But when ugu gets ridiculously expensive, I start to substitute with other soups and vegetables. I cook soups like onugbu or oha, and use uziza to make okro soup or yam pottage, adding a nice and spicy flavour. You can also use other vegetables like shoko and spinach, and opt for efo riro if you are bent on eating some kind of rich vegetable soup.
I have never liked stew made with tinned tomato paste no matter how much my mother has tried to convince me. But with the recent cost of tomatoes, I have had to find alternatives. While we are eating more jollof and curries right now, I have also learned from a good friend how to make tomato paste stew taste better with lots of onions and green pepper. I particularly like to blend the tomato paste with a bit of fresh tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and onions. However you choose to handle it, just rest assured that you don’t have to buy measly tomatoes at exorbitant prices when they’re out of season.
While I would much rather have my favourites food options all year round, it helps to know that I have alternatives until they’re back in season. We hope you can enjoy these useful alternatives too. Please share your best alternatives for seasonal food with us. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.