Suya! Benefits of a West African Skewered Beef
Suya is a spicy meat skewer which is a popular food item in West Africa. It is traditionally prepared by the Hausa people of northern Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Ghana, and some parts of Sudan (where it is called agashe).
Suya is generally made with skewered beef, ram, or chicken. Innards such as kidney, liver and tripe are also used. The thinly sliced meat is marinated in various spices which include peanut cake, salt, vegetable oil and other flavourings, and then barbecued. It is served with extra helpings of dried pepper mixed with spices and sliced onions.
Halal meat preparation methods are normally used, especially in the northern parts of Nigeria, where the suspicion of nonconformity to Muslim dietary prohibitions in Suya preparation has been known to cause riots. A dried version of Suya is called Kilishi. It can be eaten with Garri or Ogi.
There is no standard recipe for the production of the complex mixture of spices and additives which make up the Suya marinade (called Yaji) and the spice mix served with it. Ingredients may vary according to personal and regional preferences.
Although Suya originated in the Northern parts of Nigeria, it has permeated the Nigerian society, being affordable for all and available everywhere. It has been called a unifying factor in Nigeria. Suya has become a Nigerian national dish with different regions claiming the superiority of their recipe and methods of preparation, but similar grilled meat recipes are common in many West African countries. Suya is a mass consumer fast food, called a street food.
Kilishi is a version of jerky that originated in Hausaland. It is a dried form of suya, made from deboned cow, sheep or goat meat. Each of the selected muscles is sliced into sheets of one metre or less for easy drying. The dried sheets of meat are then collected and kept for the next process.
A paste made from peanuts, called labu, is diluted with enough water, spices, salt, ground onions, and sometimes sweeteners such as honey, to add sweetness. A more natural way to add sweetness is by adding date palm. The dried “sheets” of meat are then immersed one by one in the labu paste to coat them, before being left to dry for hours before roasting on a wire mesh. Kilishi can be kept for months without much change to its taste.
Beef: The best cut with as little fat as possible.
Groundnut or Peanut Oil
Skewers or sticks
Cut the beef into very thin fillets. If the fillets are long and large, cut them into small pieces such that when you thread them on the sticks, they will not flap too much. Now thread the fillets of beef on the Suya sticks as shown in the video below. Putting the beef on sticks is optional. Put some groundnut (peanut) oil in a bowl, add a small quantity of salt and stir. Using a cooking brush, rub the groundnut (peanut) oil on the threaded fillets of beef. This is what helps the Suya spice stick to the meat so make sure you do not leave out any part of the meat. In a wide dish, spread the Suya spice and dab the threaded fillets of beef in the spice so that the beef takes up as much of the spice as possible. All the beef will be covered with the Suya spice when you are done. Place all the now spiced beef in a flat plate, cover with a thin plastic film and leave to marinate for 1 hour. Once the beef has marinated for 1 hour, set your oven to preheat for 10 minutes. The settings should be Grill at 150°C or about 300°F. Place the beef flat on the oven rack and put in the oven to roast. After 15 – 20 minutes, flip the beef to roast the underside as well. The length of time you’ll roast each side depends on how thick the fillets are. Rub some of the remaining groundnut oil on both sides of the beef. Increase the oven temperature a bit and roast either side of the beef for 5 minutes each. Serve with chunks of onions, tomatoes cabbage and cucumber.