Cuisine of Niger

The cuisine of Niger reflects many traditional African cuisines, and a significant amount of spices are used in dishes. Grilled meat, seasonal vegetables, salads, and various sauces are some of the foods consumed. Meals in Niger usually start with colorful salads made from seasonal vegetables. Typical Nigerien meals consist of a starch (rice being the most popular) paired with a sauce or stew. The stews are usually made with vegetables because meat is very scarce. The starches eaten most often are millet and rice. Couscous is saved for special occasions. Porridge, wheat dumplings, and beignets are some of Niger's popular snacks. Niger (French pronunciation: ?[ni?], but occasionally pronounced as /ni?r/ or i/?na?dr/), officially the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east. Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2, making it the largest nation in West Africa, with over 80 percent of its land area covered by the Sahara desert. The country's predominantly Islamic population of just above 15,000,000 is mostly clustered in the far south and west of the nation. The capital city is Niamey, located in the far-southwest corner of Niger. Niger is a developing country, and consistently ranks as one of the lowest ranks of the United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI), 186th of 187 countries in 2011. Much of the non-desert portions of the country are threatened by periodic drought and desertification. The economy is concentrated around subsis ence and some export agriculture clustered in the more fertile south, and the export of raw materials, especially uranium ore. Niger remains handicapped by its landlocked position, desert terrain, poor education and poverty of its people, lack of infrastructure, poor health care, and environmental degradation. Nigerien (/ni?ri?n/ or pronunciation: /na?dr?n/) society reflects a diversity drawn from the long independent histories of its several ethnic groups and regions and their relatively short period living in a single state. Historically, what is now Niger has been on the fringes of several large states. Since independence, Nigeriens have lived under five constitutions and three periods of military rule. Following a military coup in 2010, Niger has become a democratic, multi-party state. A majority live in rural areas, and have little access to advanced education. A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance primarily used for flavouring, colouring or preserving food.[citation needed] Sometimes a spice is used to hide other flavours. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are parts of leafy green plants also used for flavouring or as garnish. Many spices have antimicrobial properties. This may explain why spices are more commonly used in warmer climates, which have more infectious disease, and why use of spices is especially prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling. A spice may have an extra use, usually medicinal, religious ritual, cosmetics or perfume production, or as a vegetable. For example, turmeric roots are consumed as a vegetable and garlic as an antibiotic.