Pinto on Food

Jollof rice. Egusi soup. Fufu! Get a taste of Nigeria this Sunday in Windsor

A group called Nigerian Canadians for Cultural Educational and Economic Progress (NCCEEP) is hosting their second annual "Taste of Nigeria" dinner this Sunday at the Optimist Community Centre. Jonathan Pinto met up with organizers ahead of the event to find out what Nigerian food is all about.

Jonathan Pinto gets a special preview of this Sunday's Nigerian feast at the Optimist Community Centre

Olafunke Albi, left, Funke Sabageh, Abiola Afolabi, Angelina Ebegbuzie and Sijuola Folarin are involved in organizing this Sunday's "Taste of Nigeria" event in Windsor. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

I've never tried Nigerian food. So when I came across a "Taste of Nigeria" meal happening this Sunday in Windsor, I knew I had to find out more.

I got in touch with Angelina Ebegbuzie, the gregarious project manager for a fledgling organization called Nigerian-Canadians for Cultural Educational and Economic Progress (NCCEEP).

She invited me to meet her and a few others from NCCEEP for lunch, where I could get a taste of what will be on offer this weekend.

Egusi soup is a popular Nigerian dish thickened with melon seeds and filled with a variety of vegetables and meats. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

NCCEEP president Abiola Afolabi was one of the women there. She told me the genesis behind this event is to introduce non-Nigerians to their food.

"We all enjoy pizza — but it's because somebody took the initiative to introduce it here. We love tacos — it's because somebody brought it here," she said. "So we would like people to know jollof rice — it's awesome. And puff puff. And chin chin. And egusi soup."

"We're hoping that some day, it'll just be part of the Canadian mosaic," Afolabi explained.

Jollof rice is a one-pot rice dish flavoured with tomatoes, peppers and onions. "If anybody knows anything about Nigerian food, [jollof rice is] usually the first thing that they know," Ebegbuzie said. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

When I first called Ebegbuzie to talk about trying some Nigerian food, I stressed that I didn't need a full meal. I told her perhaps we could just talk about jollof rice, a one-pot rice dish flavoured with tomatoes, peppers and onions that is very popular in Nigeria.

What I arrived to, however, was a full fledged Nigerian feast. 

Tap on the video to get a tour given by Sijuola Folarin, owner of FAS Catering, the Windsor-based company that is catering the meal.

Sijuola Folarin from FAS Catering talks about some of the dishes she prepared in advance of Sunday's "Taste of Nigeria" feast at the Optimist Community Centre in Windsor. 1:07

Shortly after the tour, the six of us sat down to enjoy the meal. To get the full Nigerian experience, I was encouraged to eat my meal by hand, which I happily obliged.

I enjoyed every bite.

One of the highlights for me was the fufu, a simple item made with ground yam and hot water. While technically a porridge, its pizza dough-like consistency allows it to be consumed more like a flatbread, where you rip off a small piece and dip it in a soup or stew.

A plate of fufu. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Sijuola Folarin told me the dishes she prepared for our lunch was only a portion of the variety that will be on offer this weekend.

If you're interested in trying Nigerian cuisine for yourself, the Taste of Nigeria event takes place Sunday, December 10th at the Optimist Community Centre on Ypres Avenue.

Doors open at 1:30 p.m.

Jollof rice. Egusi soup. Fufu! Jonathan Pinto told us about a Nigerian feast happening this Sunday at the Optimist Community Centre in Windsor. 7:14

Jonathan Pinto is CBC Windsor's food reporter. Hear his latest tasty story every other Monday at 4:45 p.m. on CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive with Chris dela Torre, and at 6 p.m. on CBC Television's CBC News Windsor with Arms Bumanlag.

The poster for this Sunday's "Taste of Nigeria" event. (NCCEEP)

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.