Kilishi (Nigerian Beef Jerky)


Nigerian Kilishi

Kilishi (also Kilichi) is the spicy Nigerian Beef Jerky, another gift from Northern Nigeria. This is one of those Nigerian snacks that you can eat till your chin pain you yet you will not want to stop.
How to make Kilishi [Video]
Kilishi can be likened to Nigerian Suya in that they have similar ingredients but the preparation and texture is different.
Traditionally, Kilishi is dried under the sun's intense heat for about 3 days but here's how to make it in your kitchen in under an hour.

Ingredients you need for Kilishi

Here are the ingredients I used:

  • 10 pieces wafer-thin beef
  • 1 tablespoon suya spice (suya pepper)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cloves (Kanafuru)
  • A small piece of ginger
  • 1 small stock cube
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry cayenne pepper seeds

Notes on the ingredients

  1. The beef you will use for Kilishi should be cut from the reddest part of the beef with no fat at all.
  2. Cut the beef as thin as possible. It is usually as thin as 3mm. The Mai Kilishis have the sharpest knife in the world. Their ability to cut a large blanket of beef so thinly is a skill that cannot be rivalled.
    Where I live, the butchers have an appliance for cutting beef into very thin fillets. Unfortunately, they cannot get a large blanket of beef so I manage the small pieces the size of my palm.
  3. You can buy the suya spice (suya pepper) in African food stores, you can also make yours. Visit How to make Nigerian Suya Spice for details.
  4. By 3 cloves of garlic I mean 3 small pieces of garlic you get when you break up a bulb of garlic.
  5. Cloves is a spice that gives the Kilishi a unique flavour.
  6. I used fresh ginger but you can use dry ground ones instead.
  7. You only need a small quantity of salt. You may not even need it if you do not eat a lot of salt. Be careful when adding salt else the Kilishi will be over-seasoned when done.
  8. You get the dry cayenne pepper seeds by removing the red part of the pepper.

Prepare the Kilishi Spice Solution

  1. Grind the cloves with a dry mill and set aside.
  2. Peel the garlic and ginger and pound/grind into a smooth paste.
  3. Add the ground cloves and crushed stock cubes to the garlic and ginger paste.
  4. And some water, stir and sieve to get an extract of these spices and seasoning.
  5. Add the suya spice and cayenne pepper seeds to the solution, stir and set aside.

Directions for making Kilishi

  1. Cut the beef into very thin fillets if it has not been done for you by the butchers.
  2. Cut off all traces of fat from the beef.
  3. Set your oven to 250°C (475F) or Gas Mark 9 to preheat. If your oven temperature settings are not up to these, use the highest possible setting but this means that your own drying times will change. If your oven has a fan, turn it on as well because it helps dry the beef faster.
  4. Sprinkle a tiny quantity of salt on the fillets of beef and spread them around. You only need a tiny quantity and you can skip salt altogether.
  5. Line your oven tray with a baking sheet and lay the pieces of beef flat on it.
  6. Put the tray of beef into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the beef every 5 minutes for even drying.
  7. After 15 minutes, bring out the beef from the oven and brush the Kilishi all over them, making sure that both sides of the beef are well covered.

    The way they do it in the North is to dry the fillets of beef in the sun for 2 days then soak them in the Kilishi spice solution and spread in the sun (on flat rafia baskets) till dry.
    Some grill it after soaking in the Kilishi solution.

  8. Put them back in the oven and bake for additional 10 to 15 minutes. Flip them from time to time and this time, keep a very good eye on it else it will become bone dry. You want it dry and chewy not crunchy.

Please note that the Kilishi will become drier when it has cooled down completely so bear this in mind when deciding the time to bring it out of the oven.

Serve with more pepper (if you wish) and a chilled drink. Click here to comment on this great Nigerian snack.