Culture Trip | Kalabari Cuisine

3 Top Kalabri Meals

The Kalabari people are a part of the Ijaw tribe that hail from Rivers State. They were originally fishermen and are said to live on the western side of the Niger Delta.

There are many tales on how they came to be. Some say they came from the outskirts of the Binis that bordered the Ijaws, others say they originally came from Calabar (also referred to as Old Calabar). Infact some Ijaws argue that the Kalabaris are a separate tribe from them but one thing that is uncontested is that the Kalabaris have a rich culture.

From their festivals to their food, weddings to their traditional outfits, they are known to be proud of their culture and show it off at any chance they get.

To celebrate the Kalabari culture (because other tribes in Nigeria apart from Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo need love), we have decided to do a series on them. We announced this on our insta stories and we had a few ‘Kalabarians’ offer their help on the various aspects they were familiar with..

To kick it off, we’re starting with their cuisine and would like to say thank you to Bomate for helping us out on this one.

It’s a new year so why not try these 3 dishes from the Kalabari region.

Rivers Native Soup – Odu Fulo

This is a popular dish and is pretty expensive to cook. Originating from the riverine area, it is made with any and everything that can be found in the sea. It is typically made with fresh fish, nsam (blue periwinkles), ngolo (white periwinkles), ofingo (clams) and any other sea food that might tickle your fancy.

It can be eaten with fufu, garri, pounded yam or any other swallow of your choice.

Source – Dooney’s Kitchen


Source – Afrolems


Onunu

This is a mixture of ripe plantain (preferably when the peel has turned black), boiled yam and palm oil mashed together. You can either make it like mashed potatoes or pound it like pounded yam.

It is typically served at Ijaw or Kalabari traditional weddings.

It can be eaten with fresh fish peppersoup or dry fish stew. Alternatively you can decide to be creative and eat it with steak and tomato gravy like Bomate did.

Source – 1qfoodplatter (The Onunu is served with fish sauce)


Onunu in mashed potato form with steak


Fisherman Soup

This is broth made with palm oil, fresh fish and other seafoods like snail, nsam, ngolo ofingo etc. Some people use okra to make it so think seafood okra.

History has it that it is named so because back in the day, the fishermen would make soup using whatever they caught at sea with palm oil and eat it.

It can be eaten with any swallow of your choice, yam or cocoyam.

Source – 1qfoodplatter


And there you have it guys, the 3 main dishes from the region. One thing we can tell is that they love their seafood which is not surprising as they are a river tribe.

Also as we all know, food tourism is a major type of tourism all over the world and we’re happy to tell you that we will be expanding our tours to include this by the way of cooking classes with a famous Nigerian chef.

Which meals would you like us to start with?

If you’re Kalabri and would like to contribute to the series please let us know.

If you’re from another tribe and would like us to do a piece on your culture please email us.

Which of the meals above have you tried or would you like to try? Also will you be joining our cooking class this year?

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*Reviews are based on opinions and personal experiences, and may differ from person to person

*prices written are based on the time the visit was made and is subject to change by the owners.

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