Food in Niger
Traditional local cuisine includes:
- a thick millet porridge topped with an okra sauce, a pepper sauce, a tomato sauce, or a squash sauce, occasionally with vegetables and a few pieces of meat
- rice with the aforementioned sauces
- mushy macaroni with an oily crimson sauce
- rice & beans
- maize couscous with moringa leaves, black-eyed peas, and sauce (known as dumbou in Djera/Zarma and exclusively accessible in Djera/Zarma areas)
Availability varies greatly by area, however tourists may want to sample the following delectable specialties, which are often accessible as street food:
- kilishi: Beef jerky in three varieties: normal, peanut-spiced, and hot-pepper-spiced.
- masa: sourdough pancakes with a peanut/hot pepper/ginger spice mix or brown sauce
- fari masa: fried dough balls served with a squash/tomato salsa or sugar syrup
- chichena: like fari masa above, but made from bean flour instead of wheat flour
- koudagou (Djerma/Zarma): sweet potato chunks fried in sauce
Less unusual yet equally delicious:
- brochettes — kabobs of meat prepared from beef, lamb, or goat
- omelet sandwiches
- mangoes: If they’re in season, they’re larger and juicier than anything else available in the Western world.
- yoghurt: pasteurized, sweet, and readily accessible anywhere there is a refrigerator
- fried fish sandwiches
- ground beef sandwiches
- green beans or peas with garlic (usually in bars and restaurants)
Be wary of the salads – even in the metropolis, they’re generally not suitable for western visitors.
Drinks in Niger
Drink lots of bottled or filtered water. You will get dehydrated at some time during your journey to Niger. It may be difficult to obtain bottled water at times, but ask for “Purewater” (pronounced pure-wata), which comes in sealed plastic bags for about XOF25 (XOF50 in some hard-to-reach places). You’ll also need to replace your salts more often than usual.
Remember that alcohol is usually prohibited in Muslim culture, so take additional precautions to keep inebriated, improper behavior behind closed doors and out of the public view.
The national beer is aptly named Biere Niger. The only other beer made locally is a franchise of the French West-African Flag brewery. Biere Niger is a good beer, although taste is subjective. Both are brewed in the same tank with the identical ingredients, with the only difference being the amount of reconstituted malt used in each batch. Everything else, including beer, boxed wine, and hard liquor, is imported.
Millet beer homebrew, made by Burkinabe immigrants, may be found in rare areas of the city. This is served in calabash gourd bowls. Some people equate the flavor to that of a dry, unsweetened cider.
Non-alcoholic beverages produced in the area are excellent. The safety of the water depends on its quality, which is usually OK in the capital but NOT OK in rural regions. They are either sold by ladies selling them from their homes (ask around), by young girls selling them from trays on their heads, or by young lads pushing coolers about.
Among these beverages are:
- lemu-hari: a sweet lemony-gingery drink
- bisap: a dark red kool-aid-type drink made from hibiscus leaves
- apollo: a thick, pinkish-brownish drink made from the baobab fruit
- degue: sweet yoghurt with small millet balls (like tapioca)
To drink, take a bite off of the bag’s corner.