Chicken Suya and Green Corn

Lately, I have been cooking chicken. I happen to have children who love chicken too so I always try to make some chicken. Funny enough, I have been thinking about Suya. For those who have no idea, suya is a kind of  chili peppered kebab made mostly by the northern people of Nigeria. It is usually really spicy and it can be made from all the parts of a cow and chicken…from the main parts to the offals.

I really have fond memories of this street food. I am a fan of suya, and growing up in Nigeria, I enjoyed it a lot. I used to sometimes hide and eat mine anytime my parents or siblings brought some home as I did not like to share mine. Once you have a tatse of suya, I promise you will get hooked on this street delicacy. The heat with the onions and the tomato as the cooling effect is of epic proportions, it is that good. Though I don’t know how it is done now, I remember that there were the various Mai Suya(one who sells suya) who sold it by carrying the delicate meat from street to street and there were others who sold it on the street sides at night and barbequing to order. These barbecue places were top notch from the coal grills to the gas powered grills. the coal grill had the tendency to give the suya that smokey, spicy and sweet taste that kept customers coming for more. The coal grills were made out of iron basins or bowls filled with hot coals and a sheet of wired metal above it for grilling. I saw a picture and man this suya business is now a hit. They have industrial barbeque grills etc

We love suya in my home and I always wanted to make an original recipe. I had some chicken sitting in the freezer and I thought for a while on how to make my chicken suya a little differently and yes Eureka! Since I am not in Nigeria at the moment, I have had to do a lot of improvisation and it really worked. I am sure the suya chefs will be quite impressed with my recipe. The tougher skinned chicken is usually used for the chicken suya and it is usually grilled to perfection. the meat on the outside stays crunchy and the one on the inside is always moist and usually would melt in one’s mouth even before chewing. For my recipe, I used what we call agric chicken in Nigeria…as in the softer skinned chicken.

Words cannot describe the beauty of the kebab that is called “Suya.” How I miss home…but you know what they say, “home is where the heart is.” Hence, I made my own Suya, I brought Nigeria into my kitchen as I always do and with my own little twist. One of the pictures below is courtesy of my Big Brother Ifeanyi Nsofor. He takes amazing pictures and once I needed a few pictures for this post, I knew he had to be the one to help me out with them. I will be attaching his suya bowl to my beef suya post. Thank you Ifeanyi

Before I go on, note that there are two different powders for suya. My sister had told me that there is the one for making it which I used, and the one for eating it popularly known as Yaji. I had no idea what each was made out of until Aishatu, my facebook friend was able to help me out. According to Aishatu, the seasoning pepper for making it is made out of what we call Kuli Kuli. Kuli Kuli, which is a Nigerian street snack is made from frying ground nuts(peanuts) with salt or sugar after all the oil is drained out. The Kuli Kuli made with salt is crushed and used as the seasoning powder for suya. The other powder(yaji) according to Aishatu is made for eating it and it is made out of different spices like dry grinded pepper ie chilis, ginger, garlic and canampari in the Hausa language, uda in The Igbo language and clove in the English language(Thank you Aishatu). A mix of spices flows through your mouth once you eat the Nigerian suya…Yummy goodness! Ps…If you do not have the seasoning  for marinating the meat; it then try using some dry grinded pepper or simply use the yaji. It works just as well

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A photo of an industrial suya grill taken by Ifeanyi Nsofor


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Chicken about to go on the grill


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chicken been chopped for serving

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Chicken Suya
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
for marinade
  • 2.5lbs whole fryer(butterflied or cut up into 4parts)
  • 1-2tbsps peanut butter(optional)
  • 1-2tbsps peanut oil(any oil works)
  • 1tbsp dry grinded pepper(the dry chili flakes works, yaji also works)
  • Salt to taste
  • Knorr chicken cube(any brand or bouillon works)(you may use only half to reduce salt content)
Suya rub for grilling
  • 3tbsps yaji powder
  • Yaji powder is normally made out of a dry blend of garlic powder, ginger powder, salt, paprika, dry cayenne or chili peppers, African or calabash nutemeg or ehuru, canampari ie uda or cloves and a bouillon cube
  • 1-2tbsps of peanut oil(any oil works)
Suya garnishes
  • 2tbsps yaji powder
  • 2 plum tomatoes(sliced)
  • 1 medium red onion(sliced)
for corn
  • 4 medium to large corn in their husks
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ¼ tsp of dry chili flakes or any other kind of dry pepper
  • 1tsp of melted butter or olive oil
  • a small bunch of cilantro
  • one lime(juiced)
For chicken:
  1. wash, pat chicken dry and butterfly using a kitchen scissors or knife. To butterfly simply means splitting the chicken to look like a butterfly). If not, just cut the chicken into 4 parts or smaller pieces
  2. Mix all the ingredients listed for the marinade, season chicken with just a little salt(if needed) and using a brush or your hands, smear the marinade onto the chicken and cover with a cling film. Let the chicken marinade for 1-24hours
  3. Pre heat your oven or grill to 350 degrees
  4. Mix the suya rub for grilling and set and aside
  5. heat a non stick skillet or griddle(you may oil if you want to). Sear the chicken on both sides to get a crust. Rub the chicken with the grill rub and put the chicken unto a roasting pan or tray and grill until the chicken is really crusty on the outside and super moist on the inside and the juices run clear.
  6. Let the chicken rest(so as not to loose all the juices)
  7. Cut the meat into pieces and garnish with the yaji powder tomatoes and onions. You can toss the meat in some yaji powder for the umami 🙂
  8. You may have it with rice and grilled corn like I did
Method for grilled green corn
  1. Soak corn with it's husks in cold water for about 5-10minutes
  2. while it is soaking
  3. roughly blend all the ingredients together.
  4. grill the corn with the husks on for about 15 minutes or until tender.
  5. Remove from the grill and open up the husks. Gently smear the blended ingredients on it and serve with suya
  1. You may use any topping for your corn. My ajebutters like their topping with cheese and bacon