Nigerian swallows refer generally to food balls that are wholly swallowed without chewing. They are starchy ingredients that, after cooking, they are rolled into balls, traditionally served with stews or soups in which they are dipped in and swallowed. While it’s generally ingested without chewing, some still think they need to chew swallows which defeats the joy of eating these kind of foods.
Why are they called swallows?
Legend says that the word “swallow”, associated with this type of dish, originated from the Anambra dialect ”nni onuno,” an Igbo language, which means “swallowed food.” So, the main idea of a “swallow” food, and the joy of eating those dishes, is to cut a small bit and roll into a ball in your hand. Swallows are not your typical finger foods in that you will need your entire palm in making it into balls, dip it in the stew or soup, and swallow it.
The most favorite and commonly made Nigerian swallow foods are Iyan (also called pounded yams), Fufu, Eba, and Amala. The preparations of these swallow foods are fun and could be energy intensive.
Iyan or pounded yams is one of the most popular Nigerian swallows. It is high in nutrients and very easy to make. It is prepared from peeled yam tubers, cut into cubes, boil in water until they are fork-tender. The boiled yams can then be either pounded in a mortar and pestle until it into a soft dough or blended in a special blender, called Poundo. To eat, you simply make iyan into small balls that can be safely swallowed. It goes perfectly with Bitter leaf or Jute leaf soup, Okra soup, Spinach stew, and Ogbono soup.
Similar to iyan, the conventional method to prepare cassava fufu is to boil the cassava tuber then pound them into a soft dough. This swallow food is also eaten with the fingers, rolled into small balls and dipped into tasty soup or stew.
Eba is made from cassava tubers processed into Gari and when prepared with boiled water it becomes mashed and the result is called Eba. It comes in yellow or white color, depending upon the use of palm oil. Eba is rich in carbohydrates and can be served with any soup but best served with Ewedu, ogbono, or ila soup.
Amala can be prepared from green plantain. The plantains are processed into flour (known as elubo) and when added to boiling water the flour turns to its characteristic rich brown color. Amala can also be made from yams and Cassava in the same manner as the plantain. It is one of those swallow foods that go with spicy, meaty stews too. Amala perfectly goes with bitter leaf soup, ogbono soup, and Efo Riro.
Craving for Nigerian Swallows?
Are you craving for one of these finger-licking swallows? Our menu includes eat-in and take-outs for fufu, amala, and eba served with vitamin-rich stews. Swallows are also available for catering for family or mini events. Ask for our Mini Catethering Swallow Options.
Watch the video below to learn how to eat Nigeria Swallow foods:
Stop by for a #TasteofAfrica if you live in or near Albany, New York. If you’re visiting the Capital District, make #keobirestaurant your one stop destination for all your food needs. We are becoming one of the topmost ethnic restaurants in Albany, NY and we are sure you’d find a variety of menu items that’d make your stay worthwhile.