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Origin of Nigerian Foods: Amala

Food consumption plays a central role in our daily interaction with friends, family and even colleagues. It features in celebrations that mark particular rites of passage like marriage, anniversaries and even burials. Food is, therefore, key to understanding how we organize our relationships with each other and the meaning of those relationships.

The Yoruba occupy the South-Western part of Nigeria. They are one of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. They are known for owambe; these are lavish parties thrown by the Yoruba to celebrate everything from naming ceremonies to burials. Thus, owambe is not just an integral part of Yoruba culture, it is a gallery that displays the clothing, music, tradition and food of the people to perfection.

Amala is the priced swallow of the Yoruba. It is believed to be medicinal. Yet, it is one food that is central in promoting the Yoruba identity. No event is complete without it. According to Mr Toye Arulogun, the Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Amala is not only indigenous to the Yoruba race, but it is also symbolic as the commonality and strong bond of a people.

Interestingly, there are three different types of Amala. The one derived from yam is called amala isu. The yam, especially in the villages, is often one that is not fit for cooking. Amala derived from cassava is called amala lafun. The last type is derived from unripe plantain and is called amala ogede. The low carbohydrate level in the plantain flour makes it a good food for diabetic patients.

Amala flour, also known as elubo, emerges when one of these three staple foods are peeled, dried and ground. Preparing it requires practice and skill. The skill is in the powder-to-water ratio and in the dexterity of the stirring to prevent lumps. The meal is often paired with ewedu or gbegiri soups. Its dark colour is the result of the drying process.

Thanks to rebranding, Amala has transcended in a short while from a local meal to a national one. It has moved progressively from Buka Special to the menu of distinguished restaurants. The fact that it is not as heavy as pounded yam, fufu or eba also contributes to its social acceptance.


Vanguard Online
Sun News Online

Ann  Allen, Food and Culture: Continuity and Change in the Yoruba of West African and their Diasporas Sun News Online

Featured image source: Pulse

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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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