The Nigerian Suya Spice Mix
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The Nigerian Suya Spice Mix

Suya is a popular street food not only in Nigeria but in other west African countries. Nigeria in its rich culture of diverse ethnicity and dialect has always found harmony in certain meals, or this case spice. In the likes of Suya, Jollof, Moi-Moi and Nigerian fried rice. These are all dishes that many Nigerians are familiar with regardless of ethnicity.

Suya is a meat dish Nigerians cook over a firewood grill with spices, similar to a kebab. The key is using the right spices and thus almost anything can have the Suya flavour. The spice mix was originally made by northern Nigerian herdsmen. It has in time found its way across West Africa and beyond. Each spice in the suya mixture is common across Nigeria and West-African local dishes. They are packed with aromatic flavours that make a perfect spice rub for beef, pork, fish and chicken. Talk about an all-purpose taste of West Africa.

Here are the essential ingredients and what they are:

  • KuliKuli Balls – A common Nigerian snack made from roasted peanuts. Groundnut is the common name for peanuts in Nigerian and most West-African countries. To make the kuli-kuli, the groundnuts are blended and strained of their oils. The leftover pulp is then made into different shapes, one of the popular shapes being a round ball shape. Kuli-kuli is eaten as a spicy snack and commonly used in various recipes especially in the northern region of Nigeria. Such as in making the suya spice mix. Alternatively, you can blend roasted peanuts and use them as a substitute in making the suya spice mix. Peanut butter is also a great substitute for a wet suya spice rub.
  • Grains of Selim – A common spice in Nigeria also used in cooking soups and sauces. It is common in other West African Countries and also known as African Pepper, Hwentia (in Ghana) and Uneihnei (in my native language ‘Urhobo’ in Nigeria)
  • African Nutmeg (Calabash Nutmeg) – One of Nigeria’s most widely used ingredients in seasoning dishes. Also known as Erhe in Urhobo language, Ehuru (in the Igbo language), Gujiya dan Miya (in Hausa) and ariwo (in Yoruba).
  • Alligator Pepper – A pungent spice used in a lot of West African soups. Traditionally regarded as an expensive spice and holds other traditional symbolism. Such as in the performance of native wedding ceremonies.

Other Substitute/add-on spices

  • Star Anise is a great substitute for the grain of Selim although not quite the same.
  • Regular Nutmeg is milder but also has a close resemblance in flavouring dishes to the calabash nutmeg.
  • Chilli powders are another fundamental ingredient to the suya spice mix. Preferably dried/smoked habanero or scotch bonnet peppers, popularly known to Nigerians in the Yoruba language as ‘Ata-rodo’. However, cayenne pepper powder makes for a great substitute.
The Nigerian Suya Spice Mix

Suya Spice Mix

Immaculate Ruému
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Seasoning
Cuisine Nigerian, West-African
Servings 1 Jar (about 400g)
Calories 1112 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 200 g 1 1/2 KuliKuli Balls (Peanut flour as substitute)
  • 5 Tbsp Ginger Powder
  • 3 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 6 Tbsp Smoked Paprika Powder
  • 12 Strands Grains Of Selim Pods (seeded) (Star anise as substitute will not give the exact taste but it is a close resemblance of flavour)
  • 7 African Nutmeg (1 Classic nutmeg as substitute will not give the exact taste, but it will give a close resemblance)
  • 1 whole Alligator Pepper Pod Seeds (about 1 Tbsp seeds)
  • 1 Tbsp Hot Chili Powder (preferably dried/smoked habanero or scotch bonnet peppers powder. Cayenne pepper also makes a great substitute)
  • 1 Tsp Salt

Instructions
 

  • Using an electric blender, grind the alligator peppers, African nutmeg and grains of Selim until smooth. You can also use a pestle & mortar or a grinding stone ware which is what was used originally in the olden days.
  • Crush in the kulikuli balls or peanut powder and give it a quick blitz just so it’s well combined.
  • Heat a dry pan over medium heat and pour in the combined mixture with the other seasonings (ginger, garlic, chilli powder, smoked paprika powder and salt ).
  • Using a wooden spoon, toss the spice mixture in the pan for about 5 minutes or until you can smell a pungent aroma.
  • Turn the heat off, set the pan aside and let it cool.
  • Store the spice mixture in a jar. (You can use it immediately or store in a cool & dry area)

Notes

This spice mixture can be used as an all-purpose seasoning such as in sauces, rice dishes, meats and barbecue.
Keyword: spice rub, sprice mix, suya

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AboutImmaculate Ruému

A multifaceted food enthusiast. Michelin trained Chef, Published Food Writer and Recipe Developer with a passion for Nigerian and Italian cuisines and the fusion of both. A traveller on the food path to breaking global culinary boundaries.

12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I really love the sound of this blend, I am always in serch for new spice mix. I have to say that I am not sure I will be able to get all these ingredients here but will need to give it a try. An eye opener for me to try and get into these new spices. Will definitely look up for the alligator pepper 😉

  2. 5 stars
    I love some of the delicious flavors you find in Nigerian cooking, and interesting to hear what’s in this spice blend. I’d love to give it a try, if I can find all the ingredients!

  3. 5 stars
    This spice mix sounds so flavorful and exotic, I must admit I never hear of selim seeds or alligator peppers, will try to make this mix if I can find all the ingredients!

    1. Selim seeds is basically the long spice used for making pepper soup. Everything can be found on amazon or ebay

    2. Nice slice mix and I’m sure it will taste lovely.
      The suya mix used for suya made in northern Nigeria has chilli pepper as main ingredient, kuli-kuli, garlic, ginger and seasoning.
      These are dried/dehydrated then blended together.

  4. 5 stars
    I love finding out about new spices and spice mixes! I would definitely love to try this although it might be difficult to find some of the ingredients.

  5. 5 stars
    I love trying new spices and flavors. I really hope that I can find the ingredients for this mix so I can make it. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Maggi cubes are not mentioned in the ingredients. They are mentioned in the instructions, but no amount is given.

    1. My utmost apologies and thanks for bringing this to my attention. Maggi cubes are not a part of this recipe. This was a mishap. Corrections have been made and I hope you enjoy the recipe.

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