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Origin of Nigerian Foods: Tuwo Shinkafa

Variety is said to be the spice of life. Cultural foods reflect the geography, history and traditions of a people. The traditional foods in Nigeria are as diverse as the ethnic groups that make up the country. Northern Nigeria is predominantly occupied by the Hausa, one of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. The Northern region can be called Nigeria’s food headquarters. The soil and climatic condition favour the growth of legumes, grains and a wide variety of other crops. The natives typically prepare a number of interesting meals from the grains, legumes and vegetables grown in the area.

It is, however, ironic that in spite of the contributions of Northerners to food production, northern cuisine is underexplored. In fact, apart from kunun, kilishi and suya, most Nigerians are ignorant of northern dishes.  One of such dishes is tuwo shinkafa. It’s a type of fufu that is indigenous to northern Nigeria. For the benefit of those who still trying to grasp the basics of Nigerian cooking, fufu or swallow is a general term for all the different byproducts of staple foods like yam, cassava, rice, that accompany a variety of soups enjoyed by Nigerians. Tuwo shinkafa is quite popular in Northern Nigeria. Indeed, one would not be wrong to say that tuwo shinkafa is to the Hausa-Fulani what amala is to the Yoruba.

Tuwo shinkafa is made from sticky, short-grained rice. The rice is usually boiled until soft and then mashed with a wooden spatula until a smooth dough is formed. The consistency of this swallow is largely dependent on choice. When it’s ready, the dough is shaped to assume a smooth rounded form and served mostly with miyan kukah, miyan wake or any Nigerian soup of choice. Tuwo shinkafa is a suitable alternative to eba, fufu, wheat or pounded yam. It is also suitable for people watching their carbohydrate and cholesterol intake. Quite easy to prepare; anyone who can make semo, amala or poundo can easily prepare this meal.



It’s More Than a Meal: Culture and Food, Published in 2006

Dooney’s Kitchen

History and Preparation of Traditional Rice Foods of Northern Nigeria, Published July 2017

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Obiamaka Angela Udevi

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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