Nigerian Spicy Suya

A rich history

Suya is a storied Nigerian street food prepared by Mallams, men from the north of Nigeria who have learned the art of spicing meat.  The dish has origins linked to pastoral nomads who travelled far and wide across Nigeria with their herds of cattle and often had to use the meat of the animals as food and for trade. As a result, suya is prevalent in every corner of Nigeria, each Mallam putting their own spicy twist on these delectable skewers.

Some tips:

- This dish is best when you can marinate the meat for a few hours or over night. If you have the time, patience makes a difference.

- Pat your steak with a paper towel to collect excess moisture sitting on the surface of the steak and then cover both sides with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour, coming to room temperature. The salt will bring more moisture out of the top layers of meat, sealing more moisture into the middle of the steak. Pat the additional excess moisture off of the steak.

This process also breaks down and softens the proteins in the meat making it more tender.

- You can use store-bought peanut butter but you will need to thin it by gentle heating to which you can add a dash of coconut milk or water to create a thick pouring consistency.

- The spice measurements are like speed limits. They are less law and more suggestion. Adjust to suit your own taste.

*** Remember, Suya is a street food.  It is best when cooked and then left to rest for an hour or two. For best results, let cool and then reheat over a charcoal flame or on your BBQ.


    • 8oz flank, sirloin or topside (sliced against the grain into thin wide pieces (about 1/4in thick and 1.5-2in wide), slightly thicker than carpaccio
    • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, skinned
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 -2 tablespoons lime juice
    • Salt, to taste
    • Optional side: Thinly sliced cabbage, fresh red onions, tomatoes and coriander leaves, to serve

    Marinate, Skewer, Grill

    1.) Make your peanut paste: In a food processor or blender, grind the peanuts till they are crushed. The ground nuts will stick to the sides of the mixing container, so using a spatula, loosen bits from the bottom and round the sides. Then add the oil, drizzling in along with a pinch of salt, blending till you get a 'thick cream' consistency. Add all the spices and lime juice to the peanut paste, stirring well. Adjust as required.

    2.) Place beef slices in a large bowl. Pour the peanut sauce over it. Using your hands, mix well ensuring the pieces of beef are coated with the sauce. Refrigerate covered and leave to marinate for a few hours or overnight.

    3.) Soak your wooden skewers in water for at least 10 min before grilling.

    3.) When ready to cook, thread the beef strips onto your soaked skewers, accordion style so the meat is stretched out, not bunched up.

    4.) You can cook your suya on a grill pan or the BBQ. Charcoal grills obviously give the best flavor but either way you are just minutes from enjoying your suya. Carefully place the skewers on an oiled grill rack over high heat (around 475 degrees).

    5.) Let cook for a couple minutes and then turn over and cook the other side. The sticks should be cooked in about 6 minutes or less, depending on how thick your slices of meat are and how rare you like your steak.

    6.) If they aren’t ready after 6 minutes, take them off direct heat and let them cook at a lower temperature (300 degrees) till done. The meat will be soft and tender.

    7.) Take off the heat and allow to rest for an hour or two. Warm gently and serve with optional toppings of thinly sliced cabbage, red onions and tomatoes.

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