Suya Beef Kebabs and Herbed Couscous

by Carly Cerniglia



I believe one of the best ways to learn about different cultures is to cook their recipes. One can learn so much by studying flavors, spices, and cooking styles of other cultures. While researching, I came across Suya. Suya is a Nigerian street food. These spicy kebabs are seasoned with a peanut spice mix that packs a punch. The Suya marinates the meat, giving it lots of flavor and making it tender after grilling. Enjoy these kebabs with herbed couscous for a light lunch or dinner. If you cannot find a Suya spice mix (also known as yaji) in the store, I’ve included the recipe to make your own. Traditionally, the Suya spice mix uses ground peanuts. However, I’ve simplified this step using peanut butter powder.

Ingredients for Suya mix:

⅓ cup peanut butter powder

¼ cup powdered ginger 

2 T cayenne pepper

¼ cup smoked paprika

2 T onion powder

2 T garlic powder

½ cube chicken bouillon

Pinch of hot pepper (I used Kasmiri)

1 T black pepper 

Kebab ingredients

2 lb sirloin

Suya spice mix (above), 2 T reserved

Lime wedges for serving 

Herbed Couscous Ingredients:

2 cups cooked couscous

Sprinkle of garlic powder

Black pepper, to taste

Salt, to taste

Drizzle of olive oil

¼ pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

⅓ grilled red onion, chopped

Chopped fresh herbs (I used Thai basil, basil, mint, cilantro, thyme, and oregano)


Freeze sirloin for 1 hour, then thinly slice. Mix Suya ingredients and reserve 2 Tablespoons for later. Rub the remaining Suya over the sirloin. Refrigerate overnight. 

Skewer the sirloin so it is flat on the skewers. Slice an onion into 3 rounds, skewering each to keep them together on the grill. Spray everything with nonstick spray. Grill skewers on a hot grill for 5 to 7 minutes turning once, erring on the side of medium/medium rare. You just want a little bit of char for flavor. Grill onions for 7 to 10 minutes until grill marks appear and onion starts to turn opaque. 

Chop up ⅓ of the grilled onion and mix all couscous ingredients together. Serve hot or cold with the yaji. Squeeze a lime wedge over the yaji, sprinkle with remaining Suya and enjoy