English people call it maize or corn but different Nigerian tribes have their names for the grains and how they prepare and use it. While Yorubas call it agbado and use it for their own delicacy such as adalu, eko, egbo etc, Igbos call it oka and they use it for their own delicacy such as Igbagwu Oka, oka moimoi etc so also the indigenous Hausas people, use corn called masara for their favourite tuo masara, tanfiri, donkwa etc. Preparations and uses of the maize grains therefore varied among the Nigerian tribes but sometimes, similar in uses among these ethnic groups.
Corn or maize can come in different colours; but in Nigeria yellow, white, or the speckled ones can be seen. Sometimes however, but rarely, red speckled corn can also be found among the grains.
In other climate, corn or maize can come in different other colours than one can ever imagine such as magenta, red, scarlet, pink, yellow, orange, bright blue, dark blue, light blue, black, purple, maroon, brown, depending on so many factors and with many health benefits such as high fiber content, valuable B vitamins important to your overall health, essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium, copper, iron and manganese. It is also a good source of the antioxidants carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health.
Apart from the culinary (food), aspect of corn, maize is also useful as medicines and as raw materials for industries. However, the interest here is choosing to use corn for food preparation in our everyday cuisine since it is now in season.
In Nigeria, maize can be roasted, boiled, blended with or without beans and steamed as moimoi, mixed and stirred for tuwo masara, cooked alongside with beans called adalu, fried, ground for pap (eko), pounded with yam among many other indigenous methods of cooking the grains. Using corn for food is dependent on how the users or cooks want to use the grains. Nevertheless, for corn lovers, it is always too difficult to ignore fresh maize from the farm.
These days, since corn is in season, streets display of boiled or roasted maize with coconut or the native pear called ube, is simply irresistible for corn lovers. One cannot but stop to buy some from the sellers shouting ibe eni ‘gbado or ibe eni ooo especially in the Yoruba speaking areas. Ibe eni ‘gbado in simple language, mean ‘today’s corn’ or ‘fresh from the farm’ can be so tempting and the aroma so inviting which differentiate it from the ones that have been harvested days back. Fresh corn called ibe eni, although a bit costlier, is richer in taste and the health benefits cannot be over emphasized in comparison with the ones that have been harvested days back. So when next you visit Nigeria during this season, please don’t forget to buy some hulks of fresh ‘ibe eni ‘gbado’ as a snack for your eating delight.