If you’ve attended weddings long enough, you would know that food is in important part of the event. Apart from the ceremony, this is what many guests look forward to during the wedding reception.
Much more than entertaining guests, food is a way to display our cultural heritage, especially in traditional marriage ceremonies. A rich menu depicts a well-thought out event. In a country like Nigeria with assorted food and many food lovers, the food choices for your wedding reception should be one that cut across age, tribes and tastes, so the guests wouldn’t have a cause for compliant.
Here are some foods guests always expect to see on a wedding menu:
Of course Jollof Rice! No matter the kind of traditional delicacy you prepare at your wedding, if Jollof rice is not present, then you need to pack your bags, shut the doors and go home. You are not ready to host a wedding reception. A Nigerian wedding menu without Jollof? That’s a taboo.
Jollof is a popular name for rice cooked in a tomatoes and pepper sauce, with spices like curry, thyme, bay leaves for aroma and seasoning. It is then served with peppered chicken or beef and garnished with fried plantain or moi-moi. Jollof rice is so popular that many Nigerians have nicknamed it ‘Party Rice’ or ‘Party Jollof.’ It tastes different from the one you cook at home, especially if it is prepared on open heat (that is, with firewood). Whatever you do, make sure this food makes it to your wedding menu. A word is enough for the wise o!
Fried rice is the twin brother of Jollof rice. They go hand in hand and together on the same plate. Although both of them can be eaten alone, a standard plate of Nigerian wedding food has Jollof rice on one side and Fried rice on the other. The two just complement each other.
Amala and Ewedu
The Yoruba tribe from the South-Western region of Nigeria are the proud ‘owners’ of Amala – a solid meal made from yam flour. However, it has grown to be one of those meals that are generally accepted by all Nigerians, tribes or cultures irrespective. It is usually eaten with Ewedu soup or Efo-riro (a spicy vegetable soup).
Although this meal is a staple food that is eaten in many homes regularly, it is still cherished and expected at Yoruba traditional marriage ceremonies. No matter how ‘tush’ (sophisticated) the couple and their family members may be, even if the wedding is taking place on the moon, Amala MUST be on the menu because the ceremony is incomplete without it.
What’s a wedding without small chops?
Before the couple dance in or while guests are settling in, do not leave the table empty and dry. While they wait for the famous party rice, they want to keep their mouths busy. Nigerians want to see small chops in small disposable plates served on the table.
They do not joke with the puff-puff, samosas and peppered meat that make up the small chops clan. It is also a lifesaver when the main meal is finished, so when latecomers finally arrive at your wedding, you can serve them small chops. It includes puff puff, mosa, spring rolls, samosa, chicken, gizzard, kebab, breaded prawns, yam chips, sometimes dodo, peppered snail…. the list goes on and on.
Nigerians generally do not joke with rice. Even if there is Jollof and fried rice are on your menu, Ofada rice would make your guests even happier. Ofada is unpolished rice which has a characteristic taste and smell.
It also has its own special sauce to go with it. Do not make the mistake of serving it on a fancy plate without wrapping it in Plantain leaves first. It’s an abominable act if you do.
This is assorted goat meat that has been garnished and roasted with different spices and peppers. It is made on an outdoor grill and has a unique aroma thanks to the goat meat flavour. The goat is usually grilled in an open-air barbecue and chopped into tiny pieces while being spiced. It is one of those delicacies that people hope could be served in large quantities. It is usually served as a starter or appetizer at a Yoruba wedding. Asun is also not difficult to make and you can make it in the comfort of your home.
This one is for the VIP guests. A meal that has managed to transcend cultural and ethnic boundaries, pounded yam is the King of meals in a Nigerian wedding. It would be disrespectful to not include it in your menu or offer your VIP guests anything else. And please note that it has to be Pounded yam, not Poundo yam. It has been included in the Nigerian Constitution that it must be on your menu.