Tiv Staples



Check out my Tiv food blog for more recipes. Here

Tiv Food Staples
The Tiv are known for their hospitality. Giving food to people is never thought of as a favor by a Tiv person. It is rather a thing of honor for the Tiv to be able to share food with keen or even strangers. The typical Tiv person does not hold back when it comes to food.  "You have cooked" is the translation of the simple phrase, u yôô, the Tivs traditionally use after a meal because there is never a need for ‘Thank you.’ I think it is safe to say that pounded yams (Ruam) and soup are a staple in any Tiv home. However there are 3 major types of Ruam that are eaten by Tiv people.  There is Ruam Kumen, Ruam Nahaan and Akpu. Below you will find a variety of food that is eaten by the Tiv and some recipes of how to make some of these foods.  Enjoy!!!

Pounded Yams  (Ruam Kumen)

Pounded yam is a Tiv delicacy made from the Nigerian Yam.  A typical Tiv person can eat this meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To the point where a Tiv person will say they have not eaten all day(even if they have eaten rice, beans, fruits etc). If they have not eaten pounded yams in an entire day they will say "Mnder je, m ngu a ya kwaghyaan ga!"


1 Tuber of Yam



  • Peel off the brown outer layer of the yam, slice and wash the white part with lots of clean water. Transfer into a cooking pot and start cooking with just water. Be sure that the sliced yams are almost completely submerged in water. (Be careful not to get the yams on your skin, it can be itchy)
  • Cook for ten to fifteen minute then check to see if the yams are soft enough for pounding, you can check with a kitchen fork by piercing. Once the yams are soft enough for pounding you are ready for the pounding part. Be sure that the water is not completely dried because you will need it while pounding the yam.
  • Sometimes the yam get very strong during pounding then you will need to add a little water while pounding, you can use ordinary water but the water left after cooking the yam is most suitable as it is still hot.
  • Pick with a fork and transfer into a mortar then go ahead and pound with a pestle, pound until the yam are seedless and can easily be molded, you can add water and pound until you have a smooth soft pounded yam.
  • Serve with your favorite Tiv Soup.

Wheat/Poundo Iyan (Ruam Nahan)

This is simply Ruam made from any kind of flour.


Wheat/Poundo flour



  • Bring water to a boil in a deep pot.
  • When the water has boiled add in wheat  or poundo flour in the pot. Mix well,  then cover and leave to cook for about 5-10  mins till the water evaporates.
  • Turn more and add water to desired consistency and mould into any shape.
  • Serve hot with any Tiv soup.

Akpu (Fermented Cassava)

Akpu is a Tiv food that  is often eaten with  soup and meat. Akpu is gotten from fermenting cassava until it becomes soft, then filtered with a porous mesh. After the fermentation process is done, these steps are followed  to prepare for consumption.


  • Set some water to boil. The water should be enough to cover the balls of akpu.
  • Put the raw cassava fufu in a bowl and knead with your hands to mix the particles well. Add some water as you do so, a little at a time. This is to make it bind together when you make the balls. Make sure it is not too soft.
  • When happy, make medium balls of the akpu and set aside. If the akpu is too weak to make balls, add some cassava flour and mix well. This is usually the case if you try to cook Cassava Fufu which you extracted from cassave tubbers the same day.
  • When the water boils, add the lining to cover the inside of the pot. Then add the cassava fufu balls.
  • Cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes. When you see cracks on the balls, it means it is ready to be taken off for the first round of pounding.
  • Turn off the heat. Transfer the balls of cassava fufu to a mortar and pound very well to crush all the lumps. If using a stand mixer, put it in the bowl and run it to mix the "dough". When done, the fufu will look white and smooth with no lumps.
  • Mould them again and set aside. This time the moulds should be a bit flatter.
  • Top up the original water and bring to a boil.
  • Add the moulds of fufu and cook for another 5 minutes. We cook fufu twice because at the half-done stage, the lumps are easier to crush. If you try to cook it straight till done, it will be impossible to crush the lumps and the fufu will be too soft. 

    As you cook it the first time, you will notice that the outside becomes too soft while the inside maintains its original texture. If you continue cooking it without mixing both textures (pounding), the whole fufu will assume the outside soft/watery texture.
  • Pound again and it's done. A well done cassava fufu has an off-white color. If it is almost grey, it means it's overcooked.

Rice and Beans (Chingalev)

This is a mixture of rice and black eyed peas  and lots of delicious spices.  This typically eaten for breakfast or later on in the day. Please  watch the video on how to make Chingalev.

Roasted yams,  Boiled yams,  Fried yams
Tiv People love yams!  Whether they are roasted, boiled or fried! Most people will eat yam in these forms early in the morning or as a night cap. Roasted yam is usually roasted with the skin still on  and peeled after it is roasted.  It is usually eaten with red palm oil with a little bit of salt.

Boiled Yam is very simple to make.  You peel the outer layer of the yams, cube it , cover the yam with water and salt to take and cook until it is soft.  This can be eaten plain or with either palm oil, groundnut oil or stew.

Fried Yam  is simply peeled, but sliced into thinner slices and fried in groundnut or vegetable oil until it is soft on the inside. It can also be eaten with oil, stew or most people prefer it with fried scrambled eggs.




Tiv Soups

Tiv people have such a wonderful variety of delicious mouth watering soups.  These soups usually accompany the different types of Ruams. They have slimy soups, saucey soups, vegetable soups, meaty soups.  You name it they have it! Tiv soups all have one secret ingredient in common.  The Nune (Locust Beans) is a must when you are cooking authentic Tiv soup. That's what makes it Tiv. Now I am no expert on soup making so below I will attempt to list and describe a few kinds of soups that I have been privileged to taste. Also I have added some videos to help with the process. For more detailed recipes, check out Tiv Food Recipes


Pocho is a sauce made with meat, onions, peppers, gbaaye (optional), palm oil, nune (locust beans) and salt to taste.  It is usually watery, but just thick enough to coat the ruam when dipped. Some people combine  Pocho with some other soup. Pocho is also used for eating white rice or beans. 

Atuu asha nase

Atuu asha nase! Yummy! This is translated literally as "Okra on the grinding stone", which simply describes how this is made.  This is a slimy soup that is made from Okra.  The okra is boiled whole (tips and ends removed of course), it is then transfered to the grinding stone where it is ground and the different delicious spices are added to it. Usually Nune (Locust beans), pepper, ginger and salt etc. This soup is thick and lumpy because no water is added to it.


Atuu can also be made in a pot and method and taste of this type of okra soup is completely different from the Atuu asha nase.  Here the orkra is cut up and put in a pot to boil.  After boiling, the ingredients are added to the pot of okra and water.  This type atuu is slightly more watery than the atuu asha nase. 


Gbodi is also made from Okra, but dry okra and not fresh okra. Okra is dried and then ground into a fine powder and this powder is what is used to make Gbodi soup. You mixed the Gbodi powder with hot water and boil it.  You then add the desired spices such as  pepper, ginger, black pepper etc.


Atyever is a slimey/draw soup that is made from the leaves of the Atyever bush.  You pick the leaves and wash them. Boil the leaves and add your ingredients of choice.  Usually, Nune (Locust beans),  pepper, salt. Serve with Ruam. 


This is a very unique Tiv soup that is made from the pulp of the Ager tree. It is also a slimey/draw soup.  The Pulp is removed from the tree and pounded in a mortar to loosen it up. It is then boiled and the pulp is sieved out. Ingredients are added to the slimey water that remains. Usually the same type of ingredients like Nune (locust beans), pepper, salt, Yiye(black pepper). 


Genger is made from  the flower buds of a Genger tree.  The buds are picked and the petals are detached and the shell is dried completely (a process that takes days to weeks).  Once it is fully dried, it changes to brown.  The dried buds are then pounded into a powder and the powder is what is used to make the Genger soup.  The tree is mostly found in Tiv land and not so much in other parts of Nigeria. It tree can be found in Konshisha, Gwer east, Gboko, Vandeikya, Tarkaa and some areas in Tiv land.  It  is a seasonal soup which is enjoyed from late November to early April of the next year. There is a general belief that once the rain sets in, the Genger looses its rich taste.  Preparation time for Genger is usually about one hour, depending on if you start with powder or the buds. 

The ingredients needed for this unique soup:
1.Yiye (black pepper)
2. Nune (Locust beans)
3. Gbaaye
4. Mtsem (potassuim/baking soda)
5. Nyam Shu. (fish)
6. Kyoho
7. Kwagh human doom.
8. Affishi (makeral fish)
9. Baar. (salt)
10. Mkem.(fresh pepper)
11. Magi
12. Tsua u Atsenger. Local pot. ( Sand made pot)
13. Mkulen ma Nyian. (palm oil)

14. Genger 

When you gathered all the above, you get a  pot, use 3 to 4 table spoon of the grounded Genger powder and pour it in the pot, add water and little  mtsem ( potassium) turn it by stirring it till it is completely desolve. Leave it for 25 minutes to rise on the fire on low heat.
After that process, blend your Nune, Gbaaye, mkem, kyoho, and yiye.  When it is well blended you combine your blended paste with baar, maggi and fish. Boil for 15-20 minutes then combine with the Genger, allow it to boil for 5 minutes before you take it from the fire. After this process, your Soup is ready to serve. Genger soup is best serve with pounded yam.

It is said to be medicinal. Some say it heals wounds and sharpens ones thought process.
It is a soup that can last for 10 days when prepared properly. It taste sweet every day so far it is not finished.
It is a unity soup that units people together in Tiv land. A person who prepares a nice Genger soup will invite a fellow woman in the kitchen to shares the meal.
It is used to settle quarrels.  If you give a fellow woman the soup, she forgive all her negative plans against you. 
Most of the food hotels in Tiv land around the dry season are stocked with Genger soup, so it makes good business.
It is a soup that Tiv girls prepared for their new husband as a first feeding meal after traditional marriage ceremony in the month of late November to early April of another year.
The hallmark of the Genger soup is its quality and aromatic taste. 


Aninge is a vegetable soup made from the leaves of the Aninge bush.  It has a unique sent to it and chewy texture to it. It can either be made all by itself or it can be added to another soup like Icheer or pocho.


Nune soup is made from fresh locust beans (nune). The ingredients are brought to a boil in a pot (Palm oil, pepper,salt, water), the nune is added to the ingredients and soup is ready.  It is one of the easiest and yet most delicious to make.

Aji a kesen

This soup is made from eggs. It is very similar the nune soup because the same ingredients are used. So you boil the Palm oil, pepper, salt, water and nune in a pot and then you add some beaten eggs to the mix.  Scramble it and it is ready to be served.  Very easy to make and very delicious. 


Vambe is also a type of slime/draw soup that is enjoyed by the Tiv.  It is made from leaves from the Vambe bush. 

Kyegh sha Ishwa (Recipe contributed by Ms. Nguyilan Wakombo)

½  Cup Ishwa (Sesame seeds)
Pepper to taste
1medium Onion
2 tablespoons of Nune
1 tsp of Gbaaye
1 whole chicken
Salt to taste
2 Cubes of Seasoning like Maggi or Norr
2 Tablespoons of Palm Oil

Step one: Get your Ishwa cleaned - Rinse in cold water and spread out thin to dry. Then roast in a pan, careful not to let it burn though.

Step two: When ishwa has cooled down, blend the ishwa in the dry mill of your blender and get it as fine as you can till it starts to bring out oil.

Step three: Blend or grind the Pepper, half onion and  Nune .

Step four:  Cut your chicken into desired size pieces. Boil your chicken for 10 minutes with half the onions, salt and seasoning cubes.  If you are using soft American chicken then skip this step all together.  (You can roast your chicken over an open fire for 5 minutes before cutting it, if you like the smoky smell)

Step five:  Put your pepper mix and meat stock (without the ishwa) and bring to a boil. Put in the palm oil then  lastly add your ishwa. Let it cook for about 20 minutes then add your chicken and simmer until everything is well cooked.

If using soft chicken allow the ishwa to cook well before adding your chicken  so that the meat does not fall apart in the soup.
Ishwa thickens and swells so check to be sure your paste isn't too thick , add water if it is too thick.  It should’nt be chuncky when you scoop it. 


Icheer popularly know as Egusi in Nigeria is a soup made from the seeds of a melon.  The seeds are removed from their shell and dried.  The seeds are then ground into a chunky powder which is used to make Icheer soup. This is a very common type of soup eaten by the Tiv.

Igyo sha nune

Igyo is a type of catterpiller that is found in the wild.  The Tiv roast it dry and use it make a special kind of soup with it.


Mgishim is garden eggs soup. Made by boiling the garden eggs until soft and then mashing them on the grinding stone or blender while mixing all necesary ingredients in.


Soup can be made from the leaves of Ashwe as well as the flowers buds of Ashwe.  When soup is made with the leaves, the soup is simply called Ashwe soup. When the soup is made from the flower buds it is call Agbende Ashwe soup.


There are many different types of Igyande soup. Igyande can be made from dried raw paw paw, dried okro, or 


Tiv beverages



Burukutu is an African alcoholic beverage, brewed from the grains of Guinea corn and millet.And although the Tiv can not claim ownership of Burukutu it is still widely comsumed by the Tiv so I must mention it.


Palm wine is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, date palms, and coconut palms. It is known by various names in different regions and is very common among Tiv people.


Ibyer (Poridge)

Ibyer is a poridge made from millet flour and it can be eaten as a meal (usually breakfast) or a snack in between meals.


Tiv Snacks


Tiv Snacks 

Asondo (dried sweet potatoes)

Asondo are sweet potatoes that have been sliced, boiled and dried out in the sun. It is a rather chewy snack that once you get hooked on you can't stop eating.

Ishwa sha ahi (Sesame seeds and groundnuts)

A blend of lightly salted roasted groundnuts and roasted sesame seeds mixed together is a very common snack among the Tiv.

Igbouh ahi (Roasted or boiled Bambara nuts)

Igbouh ahi can either be eaten in the roasted and salted form or boiled in its shell.  Either way gbyor ahi is a delectible Tiv sanck

Kureke i mgban/ijiir (Roasted/boiled corn)
Kureke is Corn.  Kureke can be eaten as a snack, by either boiling it or roasting it.

Nyam i taan mkem (Seasoned Roasted meat)
You will usually find roasted peppered meats of all kinds in the evening market all around Benue. You have chicken, fish, pork and even caterpillars sometimes.

Mzembe u mgban (Roasted pear)
Roasted pear is often eaten with roasted corn or just by itself. Another way that pears are eaten as a snack is by boiling it with a little bit of salt and palm oil.

Hungwaja (Roasted grasshoppers)
Wild grasshoppers are roasted and eaten.

Huu (Roasted termites)
Termites that fly out at night after a heavy rain are seasoned with salt, roasted, dewinged and eaten as a snack or in soup with ruam.

Abun u kaan man u jii (Roasted or boiled Groundnuts)
Groundnuts are a very common snack among the Tiv.  During harvest season of groundnuts the fresh groundnuts are boiled in their shells and then peeled and eaten.  Later on when they are no longer in season the dried groundnuts are then roasted with salt and eaten in this way.

Ishoho( boiled or dried Tiger nuts)
Ishoho is Tiger nuts.  Tiger nuts like groundnuts are eaten boiled during the harvest season and eaten dried when the season has passed.

Ibyer (Poridge)

Ibyer is a poridge made from millet flour and it can be eaten as a meal (usually breakfast) or a snack in between meals. Learn how to make Ibyer here

Apkupka u ahii

Apkupka u ahii is a loaf that is made out of banbara nuts flour, palm oil and salt. It can also be eaten as a meal as it is very filling.

Apkupka u alev

Apkupka u alev like u ahii is a loaf, but it is made from beans (black eyed peas) with the similar ingredients to the latter and very similar in the way they look, but different in taste.

Kuwese u logo

Kuwese u logo is patty made from grated cassava, onions and pepper and is deep fried in palm oil or groundnut oil.  

Kuwese u alev

Kuwese u alev is like the logo, but it is made out of beans instead of cassava and it is generally deep fried in groundnut oil. This sometimes paired with porridge or custard and served as breakfast. But it is mostly eaten as a snack.


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How to make Ibyer

Check out this great video