I can’t remember the first time I came across something called suya, but when I did I discovered a new type of cuisine – Nigerian cuisine. It is a West African type of dish and consists of meat that is marinated in spices, coated in a peanut paste and grilled on a barbecue. I had the pleasure of finally trying some suya recently at a local restaurant that opened up not too long ago.
I got an order of chicken suya skewers with jollof rice. Although you can order a suya thigh or suya chicken breast, it is mostly well known to be sold on skewers, similar to a kebab or yakitori. It is considered a type of street food that is sold in stalls in Africa and has a spicy flavour to it. Suya spice (also known as yuji) can be a blend of different spices, but I found the most common ones were kuli kuli, ginger powder, onion powder, salt and some sort of chilli/cayenne/paprika powder mix. I found the chicken suya at this location to be juicy and tender and I could taste strong smokey flavours from the grill. The side of jollof rice was also slightly spicy, but the staff informed me that it can be ordered mild or hot. From what I can gather, jollof rice is made with tomatoes, onions, scotch bonnet peppers, chicken stock and spices like thyme and/or bay leaf but recipes differ from household to household.
The beef suya was actually tastier than the chicken. I think it’s because it had more of a crispier, peanut paste batter on it and the flavours melded better with the beef. It was actually what the chef recommended out of all the dishes on the menu and I don’t disagree with his recommendation – It was more aromatic, peppery and flavourful than the chicken. As a side, they called it fried rice but it was surprisingly flavoured with lots of curry powder and had green peas, carrots and onions. It was quite tasty and very different from your typical Asian fried rice dish.
Both dishes were accompanied with a bed of raw cabbage, tomato slices and red onion. The intriguing part about this particular restaurant is the husband is Nigerian and the wife is Bahimian and this is reflected in the dishes they sell. Suya and jollof rice are both Nigerian, many of the sides are influenced by the wife’s Bahimian roots: mac n’ cheese, warm spinach salad, fried rice and fried plantain. Overall, many good choices. The problem is deciding which one to go with the suya!