Nigerian Street Food: Discover Bole In The City Of Its Birth.

In the city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, you will find a people enamoured of the good life and living it to the fullest. You will also find Bole, the local street food champion, one of this most delicious ways to enjoy plantain. 

Bole is a local delicacy indigenous to Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers state in Southern Nigeria. It comprises roasted plantain, yam, and fish served with a peppery palm oil sauce. Legends far and wide have retold encounters with this sumptuousness, but it still doesn’t do it justice.

Forgive the fawning, I have only just returned from a long-anticipated visit to Port Harcourt and the Bole is all can think about.

So, what is so special?

nigerian-street-foodI mean, it’s just roasted plantains, right? Err, I think not. Around every corner, street, or bus stop, you will find at least one bole stall, shielded from the sunlight by an often-withering umbrella. Rows of plantains and yams, darkened by the smoke, laying side by side on the charcoal-blackened grill; peppered fish arranged in artistic-looking bunches. As expected, there will be a lot of smoke and soot, but the bole seller is unfazed, feeling the food bits with bare hands and flipping them over like a magician at intervals.

Bole dish served with utazi leaves, ugba, and cabbage.

As tasty as this meal is when enjoyed by itself, bole is not without a few extras that enhances its rich flavours. Utazi leaves, a vegetable common in Eastern Nigeria, can be shredded and sprinkled over the dish before serving. It bears a tingling bitter taste that rounds up the flavours, but some bole lovers may prefer to go without. Another vital seasoning in this dish is Ugba, or fermented African oilbean seeds, a delicious condiment native to Eastern Nigeria. The fusion of bole, fish, utazi leaves, and ugba, is a fine match indeed, an unforgettable experience. Some people also experiment with strips of cabbage and green peppers, which are great for aesthetics as well as tastes.

Whenever you are in Port Harcourt, 

Try this meal whose reputation precedes it, and thank me later. Elekahia is considered a prime location for finding premium and packaged bole. D-line and Trans-Amadi are close rivals, featuring booming businesses at every turn. However, don’t limit your explorations to these places. For instance, the best bole I have ever had was at Choba, proudly curated by Lady Feed Fine who took great pride in her craft and ensuring that her customers are well catered to.

difference-between-bole-and-boliIt is worthy to note here that Bole is different from Boli, which is roasted plantain served with groundnuts. During my earlier years in Lagos, I found that most people did not know that roasted plantain could be eaten any other way. I also could not wrap my head around the idea of eating plantain dry, with equally dry groundnuts. But, hey, no food slander.

Bole is to the South-South what Boli is to the South-West. You know which is my favourite, but I hope you give it a try and decide for yourself.


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Also Read: 10 Things You Probably Thought Were African But Aren’t! 


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