Suya

Nigerian Spicy Kebabs

Inspired by Viva Afro-Caribbean Food Store

Pretty much every cuisine has a version of meat on a stick, allowing meat to be cooked quickly and to have huge amounts of flavour added to it. West African cuisine is no exception: Nigerians know it as suya and Ghanaians call it chichinga.

Here, thinly sliced meat is threaded onto skewers, rubbed with a spice mix called tankora (which generally includes chilli powder, cayenne pepper, white pepper, ground cloves, mace, ginger and ground peanuts) before being grilled. Tankora doesn’t keep very well, so it’s best to make it fresh each time.

Use good quality meat for this as you aren’t cooking it for long and want it to be tender.

Ingredients

For the Tankora

  • 50 g ground peanuts or whole unroasted peanuts
  • 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (reduce this if you prefer less heat)
  • 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace

For the Suya

  • 750 g sirloin steak, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons tankora
  • ½ white cabbage, finely shredded
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 onions, finely sliced and tossed in lime juice
  • 10–12 wooden skewers

Method

If you can’t get ready-ground peanuts, grind the whole peanuts in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar. You want to keep them as dry as possible rather than blending them until they resemble peanut butter. I like to buy unroasted ones with skins on for this. Omit the salt from the recipe if you can only get salted peanuts.

Spread the ground peanuts on a baking tray and place them in a low oven (about 50°C) for 8 hours or overnight if possible, to dry them out.

Mix all the remaining spices with the ground peanuts and set aside.

The easiest way to slice sirloin for this is to put it in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up, and then cut thin slices against the grain. Serve 2–3 skewers per person.

Soak the skewers in cold water for 30 minutes. Toss the sliced sirloin in the oil to coat it.

Put the tankora in a zip lock bag and drop in half the sliced sirloin. Shake the bag until everything is well coated and then thread the meat onto your wooden skewers with the meat flat – almost as if you are sewing through it. Repeat with the remaining meat. This is your suya.

Grill the suya under a hot grill or over charcoal for 2 minutes each side and serve with the cabbage, tomatoes and onions, and some extra tankora on the side for dipping. This is a spicy dish and goes well with a cold beer.