Yaji - Suya Spice Blend

August 25, 2018

Author Notes:

Smoky, nutty, spicy - this delicious blend of nuts and spices defines Nigeria's most popular street food - suya.

Suya spice, or yaji named after a 14th century muslim ruler from the north of Nigeria was traditionally used as a dry rub on skewers sold as street food.

It is to Nigeria what Berbere is to Ethiopia, Ras el Hanout to Morocco, Garam masala is to parts of India and is featured in my award-winning suya swordfish recipe, https://food52.com/recipes...

You could also start off with a peanut butter base - a smoky variety/ toasted one would work really well. You will end up with a paste but it will in no way impact the deliciousness.

Traditional Nigerian recipes are made with kuli kuli, peanut cake/ cracker which has been ground to paste, had the oil pressed out by a process of ‘wetting’ so it doesn’t go rancid, fried till hard for preservation and then ground to make a powder.

Combined with spices and other aromatics, yaji is beautiful with meats, roasted vegetables, sauces (think nutty, coconutty bases) and in vinagrettes.

If you aren't a peanut lover, sub with cashews/ almonds/ ground pumpkin seeds. Lime and cilantro, though not traditional accompaniments work really well.

Think about pulled meats to stuff tacos/ burritos, toppings for salads, curries and sauces and stews - the list is endless!

Kitchen Butterfly

Makes: about a cup
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 5 min


  • 1/2 cup groundnut powder or ground kulikuli (Nigerian peanut crackers)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger powder
  • 1.5 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground grains of selim (pod), optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cubeb pepper, optional
In This Recipe


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a jar. Shake well to combine.
  2. Store in an airtight container – refrigerated or in the freezer.
  3. Use liberally to coat meats, other proteins, vegetables before grilling or baking. Add to sauces, carb dishes. Incorporate into dips and sauces for a kick. Make vinagrettes with honey or other sweeteners, add to compound butters...in fact do every and any with this. Did I mention sprinkle on French toast or in waffle bater?

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