Suya is well known and loved by Nigerians regardless of their ethnic group. On the streets of Lagos, and other metropolitan cities in the country; you will find “Mai suya” or “Mallams” every few miles selling suya meat. They grill thin strips of meat previously marinated in suya spice and drizzled with peanut oil over hot coal grills; and show off amazing knife skills as they cut the meat into smaller pieces. These slightly charred, aromatic and spicy thinly sliced meat wrapped in paper with tomatoes and red onion slices is the epitome of Nigerian street food.
What Is Suya Spice?
Peanut based rub with spices is commonly used across Africa to spice meat before grilling. It is commonly associated with barbecued meat sold on the streets, such as Suya/Yaji/Tsire in Nigeria, Chichinga in Ghana and Agashe in Sudan. Suya spice, also called suya pepper is the dry rub used to make these grilled meats; and its origins can be traced to the Hausas from Northern Nigeria.
Traditionally, suya spice is made from ground kuli kuli, peppers and some local spices like grains of selim etc. Kuli kuli is a deep fried cake made from defatted peanut paste and is the base ingredient for this Nigerian spice.
My suya recipe has been adapted to suit people who do not have access to these local ingredients, especially kuli kuli. It is super easy to make and all the ingredients are available at the supermarkets. The taste of homemade suya powder beats the packed store bought products labelled as “suya seasoning” which do not contain any peanuts.
What Can I Use Suya Spice For?
Apart from marinating or sprinkling over beef, Nigerian suya powder is a good seasoning for roasted or grilled fish, chicken or vegetables. The nutty and spicy flavour is an easy way to lift the flavour of food.
It works very well with roast potatoes; and is equally great to add to stir fries or salads. I have used it in meats for sandwiches and wraps; or oven bakes. The opportunities are boundless; just sprinkle over food like you would other spice seasonings.
Here are some recipes using suya spice for you to try;
How To Make Suya Spice
This Is What You Need...
A few notes about the ingredients...
- Peanut: This is the base ingredient for this Nigerian spice mix. Peanut powder has become very popular and is quite easy to find. I use defatted peanut powder called “peanut Hottie”; which is available on the same aisle as peanut butters at my local supermarket.
- Pepper and Paprika: Suya seasoning is traditionally spicy, but you can adapt the quantity of ground pepper to suit your taste. The paprika provides earthiness without the heat associated with the hot pepper; and also gives some colour to the spice mix.
- Salt: I usually only add a little salt to the suya spice mix; so I can use for different dishes. I tend to add more salt or bouillon directly to the food if required.
How To Make It
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and mix very well. Keep suya spice in air tight container and it will last a few weeks.
- 4 Tablespoons Peanut butter powder
- 3 Tablespoons Paprika
- 2 Tablespoons Ginger powder
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon Onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon Chilli flakes
- 1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.
Google Arts and Culture has some amazing pictures of Suya as sold on the streets of Lagos.