Chicken Suya and Green Corn

Lately, I have been cooking chicken. I happen to have children who love chicken too so it’s always on our menu at least every week. 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. If had with such sides as onions and tomatoes, 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.

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. 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 some chicken thighs(which are very flavorful) which I threaded with a skewer.

“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 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




A photo of an industrial suya grill taken by Ifeanyi Nsofor


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Chicken Suya
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
For chicken
  • 5-6 pieces of boneless chicken thighs or 1½ lbs(use chicken breast or parts if you want)
  • 1tsp dry grounded pepper
  • 2tsp suya pepper or yaji
  • 2tsps peanut oil
  • 1tbsp dry grinded pepper(the dry chili flakes works, yaji also works)
  • skewers(soak in water before use to prevent burning)
  • 1 bouillon(optional)
  • Salt to taste
basting sauce
  • 4-4½ suya powder or yaji
  • 3 tbsps peanut oil(any oil works)
For chicken
  1. Wash and pat chicken dry. Cut into strips or any size. Season with salt and or bouillon, dry pepper and 2 tsps. grounded pepper. Thread onto the skewers and let it marinate for 1-24 hours.
  2. mix the basting ingredients to form a slurry and set aside.
  3. Place chicken onto a grill and using a basting brush, baste the chicken until it cooks. The outside should be crispy and the inside should be soft and juicy. Serve with onion and tomatoes. Enjoy


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