Number 1 street food to try this weekend: Suya, plus how to make it at home

Number 1 street food to try this weekend: Suya, plus how to make it at home

Suya is Nigerian street food so delicious that it stays on your tongue long after you have eaten it. I doubt there is any Nigerian living in Nigeria who hasn’t tasted this yummy dish. If there is any, well, that person should check well to see if they are in an alternate universe.

Every culture has its version of suya. Kabobs, satays, anticuchos, and skewers, among others, are what they are called in Western countries. However, everyone agrees on one thing – It’s an absolutely delicious meal. In Nigeria, it is bought from the streets. But do you know you can turn this street food into a homecooked meal? Keep reading to find out how.

What is suya?

Suya is a Nigerian street food made from skewers of spiced, nutty, smoky, charred beef or chicken, served with raw onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, or any vegetables of your choice. In Western countries and the Middle East, it is called Kabobs, satays, anticuchos, and skewers, among others. The tender meat is threaded on a skewer and baked or grilled to perfection in a spicy peanut sauce. Then it is sprinkled with yajin kuli to be served with vegetables like tomatoes, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, etc.

Types of suya

There are three basic types of suya in Nigeria – tsire, kilishi, and balangu.



Tsire is the most popular Nigerian street food. The tsire powder is the main ingredient of suya and it is traditionally made from dehydrated peanut cookies also known as kulikuli, salt, vegetable oil, and other spices and flavourings. These mixed ingredients are used to marinate the skewered meat and then barbecued.

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Photo credit: The Market Food Shop

Kilishi is Nigerian spicy beef jerky. You can call it the dried version made from cow, sheep, or goat meat and it is a popular snack, especially in Northern Nigeria.  It was originally made out of necessity in the north to preserve meat through the drying process. To make kilishi, the bone from the meat is removed. Then cut the meat into very thin slices or fillets for easy drying.

Tsire spices are pretty much the basic ingredients for kilishi. The only addition to this dish is honey or dates as sweeteners. These ingredients are diluted with water and mixed into a paste called labu. The now-dried slices of meat or fillets are immersed one by one in labu paste to coat them before bringing them out to dry for hours.


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Balangu is spit-roasted/fire-roasted meat on brown paper. For this meat recipe, the meat is sliced thin and slow-cooked in its own juices and with its own fat. There are little or no other ingredients added until it is cooked through. Ram is the most popular meat for this dish and it is moist, tender, and super delicious. You can eat balangu with flat baked bread or fried potatoes.

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Origin of suya

Suya originated from the Hausa people in Northern Nigeria. The street food is historically prepared and made by Hausa men Mai nama (not women). Hausa suya is made from skewered beef, ram, or chicken and innards such as kidney, liver, and tripe. It is also traditionally served with an extra helping of dried pepper mix, traditional Hausa spices, and sliced onions. In Hausa culture, it has a side serving of Hausa Masa (fermented rice/grain/corn cakes). Kilishi is also eaten with Masa, Kosai, Garri, or Ogi.

Although suya is a traditional Hausa dish, it is now very popular all over Nigeria and West Africa.

What to eat with suya

suya with fried rice
Photo credit: Pinterest

Suya is basically seasoned, roasted, or barbecued meat. So you need other foods to balance the dish. The popular side servings are chunks of onions, tomatoes cabbage, and cucumber. But do you know you can eat suya with jollof rice? Yeah, try it and thank me later.

Suya can also be eaten with pap popularly known as akamu or ogi, soaked garri. You can add fries to your suya like fried potatoes and plantains. Some people like to add suya meat to their soup and swallow.

Suya powder

It’s spice is also known as Yaji Spice and it is very popular in Nigeria, especially in the North. For years, only the top Hausa Mallams knew the recipe for this spice. Although not everyone knows how to prepare the spice now, it is no longer the exclusive knowledge of the Mallams. You can make Yaji spice at home. Here are the ingredients and preparation steps.

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How to make suya meat in Nigeria
Number 1 street food to try this weekend: Suya, plus how to make it at home 1

If you’re tired of eating Nigerian street suya (which you shouldn’t be as the street vibe add to the flavor of the dish), you can try making it at home. Here are the ingredients and preparation steps.

Type: meat

Cuisine: Hausa

Keywords: suya

Recipe Yield: 1

Calories: 500

Preparation Time: PT1H00M

Cooking Time: PT0H30M

Total Time: PT1H30M


Recipe Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons Kuli Kuli (groundnut cake)
  • 5 tablespoons ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper flakes
  • 10 strands of African Negro Pepper also known as Uda in Igbo
  • 1 small stock cube
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Deboned beef, chicken, or any meat of your choice.
  • Suya spice (the recipe has already been listed above).
  • Groundnut or Peanut Oil
  • Salt

Recipe Instructions:

How to make suya powder:

  • Crush the kuli kuli with a mortar and pestle for easy grinding.
  • Crush the cayenne pepper in a mortar until the skin separates from the seeds. Put in a flat tray or plate and toss so that the flakes will move to one side for you to pick them out. Don’t throw away the seeds as they can be useful for other Nigerian recipes.
  • Break the African Negro Pepper into pieces and crush the stock cube.
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Grind them in small batches in a dry mill or coffee grinder.
  • Sift the spice with a sieve to remove all fibre from ingredients that did not grind well.
  • Your suya spice is ready.

How to make suya:

  • Note: You will need a skewer or stick to hold the meat for roasting or barbecuing.
  • Soak the sticks in cold water for five hours to ensure they don’t burn during the roasting of the suya.
  • Cut the meat into thin slices or fillets. Make sure all fats have been removed. The best is to let the meat freeze a little to make cutting easier.
  • Thread the fillets on the sticks. If the fillets are too long, cut them so they won’t flap during roasting. Note that using sticks is optional but hey, it’s Nigerian suya. Sticks are part of the suya culture, lol.
  • Put some groundnut oil in a bowl, add a small quantity of salt, and stir. Then rub the oil on the threaded fillets with a cooking brush. Make sure the oil touches every part of the fillet to avoid burning.
  • Spread the fillets on a wide plate or dish and coat them with the suya spice.
  • Cover and allow to marinate for an hour. You can put it in the fridge while marinating but the original Mai nama don’t, just so you know.
  • Once the fillets have been marinated, set your oven to preheat for 10 minutes.
  • Place the beef flat on the oven rack and put it in the oven to roast.
  • Flip the fillets after 15 – 20 minutes to roast the underside as well. The roasting time depends on how thick the fillets are which could take about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Rub some of the remaining groundnut oil on both sides of the beef. Then increase the oven temperature and continue roasting for extra five minutes.
  • Remove from the oven.
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Nonye is a Thespian, screenwriter, creative writer and an unapologetic lover of books, great movies and sports. She has over 10 years experience in content writing on entertainment, movies, sports and lifestyle. Nonye is currently a content writer at Blackdot Media and founder of
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