Suya Beef Skewers – Nigeria


When I arrived in Lagos last week, I was greeted with a plate of suya. These peanut-dusted beef or chicken skewers are a classic Nigerian snack. Said by some to originate in neighbouring Cameroon, they are originally a roadside bite but now available even in upmarket restaurants.

They are sometimes served with a thin coating of peanut flour and spices, and sometimes covered in a thicker peanut paste. I have found recipes that are based only on peanuts and dry spices, and others that include fresh ginger or garlic, and even tomato paste.

The recipe below is an adaptation of a couple of recipes that I found online and in cookbooks. The one thing that I will add next time that I did not have at home this time is a Maggi cube, which I would grind together with the peanuts.

I grilled mine in the oven, but for the real deal you should grill them on the coals. The coating gets quite moist when grilled in the oven.

As suyas are not necessarily that hot, Nigerians will often eat them with a ‘peppe’ sauce. The mouth that does not taste peppe has a poor soul, I have been told by Nigerian friends. Maybe that’s why Lagos is such a soulful place.

For 10 skewers

  • 700 gram beef fillet (or other suitable beef cut)
  • 150 ml roasted peanuts
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper or ground chili pepper
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 10 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 mins

Set oven to the highest temperature.

Grind the peanuts in a spice grinder to a fine powder. If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can grind the nuts with a mortar and pestle, or crush them by putting them in a plastic bag and beat them with a roller.

Add the grated garlic and the dry spices and mix well.

Slice the beef fairly thin (5 mm slices) and thread the slices on the skewers. Brush each skewer with peanut oil on both sides, then cover with the peanut mix and place on grill rack in a oven pan. Sprinkle a little peanut oil on top. Set oven to grill function, and place oven rack towards the top. Grill for 5 minutes on each side for well-done skewers.

Serve with French fries for a meal, or as they are for a snack. Enjoy!

Spice cart on a Lagos street.
Spice cart on a Lagos street.

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