Suya is a culinary and cultural gem that celebrates strong flavours and age-old customs. It is more than just roasted meat. Suya, frequently seen sizzling on open barbecues, charms both locals and intrepid foodies. This delectable street food may be mistaken for shish kebabs; however, there are notable differences starting from their origin. While the shish kebabs originate from the Middle East, suya can be traced to the Hausa people, a tribe in northern Nigeria in West Africa. It is now popular across the country and has become a staple street food, with suya spots found at strategic locations either on bustling streets or sand-filled beaches.
The magic of suya lies in its preparation. Due to its increasing popularity, some restaurants now offer suya as part of their menu, but nothing beats the suya from a roadside seller, popularly known as mai suya, expertly flipping the meat on his grill, not minding the sizzling hotness and smoke pervading his eyes. This is not just a skill; it is an art. From the careful selection of meats, the meticulous process of blending the spices, and the artful way in which it is served, it is safe to say that experience and expertise are needed to prepare this culinary delight.
MAKING THE PERFECT SUYA
There is no particular recipe for the different spices used in making suya. It varies according to region and personal preferences. If you are feeling adventurous, you can make this culinary masterpiece yourself.
First, take some skewers and soak them in water. This is done to prevent it from burning when grilling starts. Then cut the meat into small pieces, clean them, and thread them onto the skewers. Next, marinate the meat with the suya spice. This can be made locally, and some consist of black pepper, salt, garlic, seasoning, and ginger. Others have a mixture of turmeric, curry, and other spices, depending on preference. After marinating, cover the meat with the suya spice. Next, start grilling. This can be done using coal or an oven. Just the right amount of heat is needed so as not to burn the meat.
Once the suya is done, it can be served with different accompaniments like cabbage, onions, sauce, lettuce, etc. As the tantalising aroma wafts through the air, it creates an irresistible allure that promises a flavourful journey with every bite.
SUYA: BEYOND THE GRILL
More than just meats on skewers arranged on grills, suya has deep cultural importance. Eating and enjoying suya gradually develop into something of a social ritual that promotes a sense of belonging. The love of this street food serves to bring people together, and its presence at events, festivals, and in our day-to-day lives makes it somewhat of a cultural ambassador.
In conclusion, whether you are a street food devotee or a curious newcomer, everyone is welcome to enjoy the flavours and delight of suya during this festive period.