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Nigerian Cooking 101: Cooking Terms You Should Know (Part Two)

Hi. I hope you found last week’s edition of cooking terms useful. Today’s article is a continuation of that piece. The first segment is still available in the blog. Both articles are by no means exhaustive; they merely highlight those cooking terms that are used more often in the Nigerian kitchen.

I hope you study them at your leisure. Knowing them will help you feel at home in the kitchen.

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Mash: To crush, beat or press food into a soft, smooth state using a fork or masher. You put those boiled potatoes in a clean bowl and mash before feeding a baby.

Mince: To cut or chop into very small, fine pieces, like you would onions and garlic.

Parboil: To boil food briefly until it’s partially cooked. When food is parboiled, other ingredients may or may not be added to it. Cooking, however, continues until the food and the ingredients, if any, are evenly cooked. When rice or spaghetti is parboiled, the starchy water is drained. If cooking continues without the addition of other ingredients, the result is what we call white rice or white spaghetti. But when other ingredients are added to it, the result may be Jollof, coconut or fried rice/spaghetti.

Preheat: To allow the oven or pan to get to a specified temperature before adding food to be cooked. Before baking corn pudding, for instance, preheat the oven to about 325F.

Puree: To mash or grind food until completely smooth. Some Nigerian delicacies are prepared with tomato puree.

Roast: To cook food uncovered with hot air either in an oven or over a fire. Foods that can be cooked using this method are meat, poultry, game, plantain, potatoes, yam and maize.

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Sauté: To brown or cook food quickly in a small amount of fat. Onions is usually sauteed for five minutes before tomatoes are added to it.

Season: To improve the flavour of food by adding salt, pepper as well as herbs or spices to it.

Shell: To remove the shell from nuts, legumes, snail or shellfish.

Simmer: To cook food in a liquid to a boil and then reduce the heat to just below the boiling point. When your soup or stew is simmering, bubbles rise to the surface and then collapse.

Steam: To cook food in steam created by boiling water. Moi moi and corn pudding are some examples of foods that are cooked by steaming.

Strain: To separate liquids from solids by passing them through a cheese cloth, colander or sieve. After parboiling rice, for instance, a sieve is used to separate the starchy water from the rice.

Stir: To move food around with a spoon. Stirring is usually done in a circular motion. It is done to mix ingredients before cooking or while cooking. It can also be used to cool foods after cooking.

Whisk: To beat ingredients with a whisk or fork. Some recipes require you to whisk eggs before use.

I wish you the best of luck in your cooking endeavours.


CIA Chef Blog

Culinary Dictionary

Good Housekeeping


Featured image source: Shutterstock

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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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