Suya (or Tsire or Chichinga) – Nigerian Grilled Meat Skewers

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Paleo ~~~

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Suya or tsire (also known as chichinga in Ghana) is a Nigerian street food.  The traditional recipe uses roasted peanuts to marinate the meat, but since peanuts are a legume and legumes are not allowed on paleo, I substituted roasted cashews which also gives it a wonderful flavor. On the other hand if you do eat peanuts, feel free to substitute them for the cashews and know that you are having an even more authentic version.  Speaking of authentic versions, although 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne sounds pretty spicy, the truth of the matter is most of the other recipes I looked at used at least 1 teaspoon cayenne – so feel free to increase the cayenne significantly (or decrease it if you are not fond of spicy).   Also, you do not have to limit yourself to beef for these skewers; they would be equally good with chicken, lamb, pork, shrimp, or even goat.

Now you might ask yourself how does a die hard New Yorker, who barely leaves her neighborhood, know of a Nigerian street food?  Good question.  I can’t imagine that I dreamed up the word Suya (or tsire or chichinga) and googled it, nor do I think I googled Nigerian street food – so how did I get there?  I don’t know, but I do know an interesting recipe when I see one and since I’ve been stuck at home with a cold and cough I had time to look for something that piqued my interest.  When I found Suya it struck just the right cord as I generally like to eat really spicy foods when I have a cold because:

a) they are the only thing I can still taste

b) cayenne is excellent to relieve coughs (my home remedy cough medicine starts with 1/4 cup red pepper flakes)

c) I had a defrosted steak and had to figure out something to do with it

So however I got to this recipe I can assure you it was a lucky (and delicious) find.  The salad is completely my own addition – I think spicy food goes so well with light and crunchy salads – and this truly is a dynamic duo (or if you add a beer it would make this a terrific trio).


Suya (Tsire) Spicy Beef Skewers

This Nigerian street food makes a great meal or if you make small skewers, a very interesting hors d’oeuvre.  The salad goes well with any meal.



1/4 cup roasted peanuts or cashews (salted or unsalted)

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

Salt to taste

3/4 pound steak (use a tender cut – I used sirloin), thinly (about 1/4-inch) sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon lime juice


2 cups shredded cabbage

1/2 cup sliced sweet onion

1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup cucumber slices

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or parsley

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

Place the roasted nuts into use a blender (best), food processor or a mortar and pestle. Process until you get a fine powder, try not to over process or you will be making this with homemade nut butter, but that will work too.

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Place the ground nuts, paprika, garlic, ginger, ground red pepper, in a small bowl. Toss to completely blend.

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Place the meat in a zip lock bag. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and and lime juice; toss to coat.


Add half the nut mixture and toss to coat. Add remaining nut mixture and toss to coat completely. Let marinate at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.

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While the meat is marinating prepare the salad by combining the cabbage, onion, tomatoes, cucumbers and chopped herbs in a large bowl. Toss to combine but do not dress yet.


Preheat the grill or broiler. String the beef onto skewers; place on a jelly roll pan lined with aluminum foil.

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Cook 2 to 4 minutes per side or until desired doneness. (cooking times may vary depending on how thinly you cut the beef)


While the beef is cooking, add the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to the salad and toss.


Place the salad on a serving platter. Top with beef skewers.


Serves: 2 or 3


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