How to make Suya Spice (Suya Pepper)
When I uploaded my Nigerian Suya video, the question from lots of people was: Flo, I can't buy suya spice where I live, how can I make it?
I said I had no idea. The Nigerian Suya spice, known as Yaji in Hausa, is the best kept recipe secret only known by the top Mallams of Hausaland and I knew it is impossible to get the recipe from them.
But the requests for suya spice recipe kept pouring in and thinking about how many people would be able to enjoy Suya in their own homes, I was challenged to find out how to make this special suya pepper. My sister agreed to go to the Mai Suya (Suya Guru) from whom she buys the Nigerian suya spice that she normally sends to me, to ask about the recipe. The Mai Suya said that he knows nothing about the recipe, that the finished product is usually sent down to him by his brother in the North (Northern Nigeria). I don't know if that is the truth or if it is part of the conspiracy to continue to keep the suya spice recipe a secret. lol
To cut a long story short, my sister could only get the list of ingredients from several other Mai Suyas, none of them could/would give the exact quantities of ingredients used in the suya blend. The list of ingredients from 3 different Mai Suyas were the same so I set to work to find out the proportions of the ingredients that make the perfect suya spice with its trademark look, flavour, taste and texture.
After lots of permutations and combinations with back and forth comparisons with the suya spice prepared by a suya guru, I am convinced that I have the perfect suya spice! Please try it and let me know what you think.
Ingredients for Suya Spice
All these ingredients with their respective proportions are important for the overall taste, flavour and texture of your suya spice. I got 190g of Suya Spice with the following quantities of ingredients:
- 5 tablespoons crushed Kuli Kuli (110g)
- 5 tablespoons ginger powder (75g)
- 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper flakes (6g)
- 10 strands of African Negro Pepper known as Uda in Igbo
- 1 small stock cube (4g)
- ½ teaspoon salt
Notes on the ingredients
- These ingredients are all you need to make your suya spice, no more, no less. :)
- Kuli Kuli (also Kwuli Kwuli or Kwili Kwili) is groundnut (peanut) cake. To make Kuli Kuli, you simply grind roasted groundnuts, squeeze out the oil from them with a paper towel or napkin, press them into any shape you want and deepfry them in vegetable oil till brown and dry.
Never use roasted groundnuts for your Nigerian Suya spice without first of all processing it into Kuli Kuli because there's too much oil in peanuts and this will form a paste instead of powder when you grind it.
- Dry ground ginger is merely ginger that has been dried and ground into powder. You can buy it from spice shops and supermarkets anywhere in the world. The dry ginger should always be the same measurement (in tablespoons, not grams) as the Kuli Kuli. So if you want to make a large quantity of the suya spice, use the same cup/bowl/container you used to measure the crushed kuli kuli to measure the ground ginger.
- Cayenne pepper flakes are the skin of dry cayenne pepper. Just rub dry cayenne pepper in a crucible to free them from the seeds, then separate the flakes from the seeds. The listed quantity of the flakes gives the suya spice its orange colour and and the right amount of spiciness. If you add too much of these flakes, the suya spice will be too spicy hot and will ruin the Nigerian suya you will make with the spice.
- African Negro Pepper is known as Uda in Igbo, Eeru ( erun and Kanafuru?) in Yoruba and Chimba (kimba) in Hausa. You may be lucky to find this outside Nigeria. Its job is to bring out the trademark flavour of the suya spice. Without this ingredient, the suya spice will not be the same. African Negro Pepper is used to prepare a special yam pepper soup for new mums because it is known to help contract and cleanse the uterus after childbirth.
- Though I listed the quantities for the stock cube and salt, you should add these two to your taste.
Tools you need
Before you make the Suya Spice
- Crush the Kuli Kuli with a mortar and pestle or put in a plastic bag and crush with a blunt object. Kuli Kuli usually comes in different shapes and sizes and this crushing makes it easy for you to measure it and blend it in the dry mill or coffee grinder.
- Crush the dry cayenne pepper in a mortar or any other rough container till the skin separates from the seeds. You don't need to pound it. When done, put in a flat tray or plate, toss so that the flakes will move to one side then pick them out. Later, you can grind the seeds and use them in other Nigerian recipes.
- Break the African Negro Pepper into pieces and crush the stock cube.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Grind in small batches in the dry mill till they turn into powder. Any coffee grinder will do this job very well.
- When done, sift the suya spice with a sieve to remove all fibre from the African Negro Pepper and ingredients that did not blend well.
- That's it! The suya spice is ready to be used in making Nigerian Suya.
Put the suya spice in plastic bags or containers and store in the freezer. It can last for years and still retain its taste and flavour. But who would want to keep suya spice in the freezer for years anyway? When there are lots of suyas to be made with them! lol