Beef Suya BBQ

Suya is an all time Nigerian favourite and it is gaining much popularity internationally, as was quite evident in one recent CNN documentary/report. Suya is so popular, you find a mai suya (suya vendor) on every street corner you turn in major Nigerian towns and cities!

Funke Koleosho's Beef Suya Recipe

As we all know, quite simply, suya refers to any meat seasoned with the unique blend of traditional Nigerian spices and condiments, collectively called Yaji, and barbecued over hot smoky fire. Even though we are more familiar with the more popular beef suya, nowadays, there is chicken suya, fish suya and even veggie suya!

This unique spice used to make suya, Yaji, literally translates "the hot or temperamental one". It's supposed to be a really spicy mix with its main ingredients being chilli powder and ground ginger. The name suya itself is believed to originate from the sound you make when your mouth reacts to the fiery heat that hits you when you eat it....(shuuuuuuu....yaaaahhhhhh).

Now, I really love suya but am not a fan of the overbearing fiery heat of the spiciness (from the chilli powder), which apparently some people really enjoy, especially with super chilled lager (beer)!

Though there are some fantastic mai suya's out there selling some excellent tasting suya, there are some equally not so good ones...I figured that making my own would be a sure way to get the right taste for me every time. I tell you, it's so so easy. All you need is a good yaji blend and good cut of meat. Slicing the meat could be daunting but fear not, get your butcher to do it for you and if not, freeze the meat for a while and when its semi-frozen, slice thinly with a very sharp knife..... Give it a try.

Beef Suya


  • Some beef with some streak of fat (the fat will prevent burning when on the grill)
  • Groundnut oil (or any vegetable oil) 
  • Red onion, thinly slice 
  • Suya mix - yaji (use more or less depending on chilli content) 
  • Some salad tomatoes, wash and slice 
  • Some groundnut paste or peanut butter 
  • Salt or seasoning cubes 
  • Iceberg lettuce

What to do:

  1. I have left proportions out to enable you achieve your own unique suya taste. You will need to play around with quantities especially with the suya spice, groundnut paste and seasoning salt. 
  2. Thinly slice beef into sheet-like pieces. Rinse and place pieces in a large mixing bowl. 
  3. Add the suya (yaji) mix and seasoning cubes. Add some groundnut oil (the amount depends on the amount of beef used) and groundnut paste. Work spices into the meat and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours. 
  4. Skewer the beef pieces as you desire. Heat up an iron griddle (you may also use an open barbecue grill), and place the skewered beef. Allow to cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side or until meat is cooked to your preference. Avoid burning by regularly turning. 
  5. For the perfect presentation, remove the suya from the skewers used to barbecue (I expect some burning to have occurred) and string onto new satay sticks. Serve suya with sliced onions and tomatoes on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce. Enjoy eating it with your preferred cold drink.

OR Alternatively

  1. For this method you wont need to put the meat slices on skewers at this point. 
  2. Place beef pieces in an oven dish and cook in a heated oven (190 gas mark 5) for about 15-20 minutes, turning meat pieces occasionally. This may require more or less time depending on the thickness of the meat slices.
  3. For presentation, skewer the cooked suya on satay sticks.
  4. Serve suya with sliced onions and tomatoes on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce. Enjoy eating it with your preferred cold drink.

Beef Suya



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