Homemade Yaji: Nigerian Suya Pepper Spice Blend

Spice blend/mixes are blended spices or herbs.

When a certain combination of herbs or spices is called for in many different recipes, it is convenient to blend these ingredients beforehand. Wikipedia

Looking into more street foods and spice blends from Africa brought us to Suya, seasoned by Yaji.

Yaji Meaning

Yaji or suya pepper is the famous spice blend applied on Suya a beef kabob, and one of the most popular Nigerian street foods.

This hot dish began in the northern part of the country.

In Nigeria, you’re likely to find as many suya stands on the corners as you would find Starbucks shops in the United States.

What’s in Suya Yaji? 

All yajis are hand-blended from peanuts, sea salt, paprika, cayenne, garlic, ginger, and onion.

These are mixed in a large wooden mortar and pounded with a pestle until floury.

Spice Blend Flavor Profile 

Yaji Seasoning mix is nutty, spicy, smoky, and has hints of onion and garlic, making it the perfect blend to use on kabobs.

Yaji Recipe: Homemade Suya Spice Blend

The main reason why the suya meat spice made by Mae- suya will always be authentic than your store-bought mix or homemade blend is Kuli Kuli/kwili kwili/kuli kuli powder.

No Mae-Suya makes suya spice with fresh peanut blend, there is way too much oil in fresh groundnut and this will form a paste instead of powder when you grind it.

So kuli kuli (processed groundnut blend) is preferred.

How to Make Kwuli Kwuli

  • To make groundnut (peanut) cake Firstly, grind roasted groundnuts.
  • Secondly, squeeze out the oil from them with a paper towel or napkin.
  • Lastly, press them into any shape you want and deep fry in vegetable oil till brown and then dry.

Yaji Ingredients

  • ½ cup grounded kuli kuli (substitute roasted groundnut powder)
  • ¼ cup chilli powder
  • ½ cup of ginger powder
  • ¼ cup paprika powder**
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup onion powder
  • ¼ cup garlic powder

** Paprika powder used is ground dried tatashe (bell pepper), very similar to ground pepper (shombo).

This helps to give the suya spice a bright red appearance instead of the dull brown color.


  • Firstly, mix all of the ingredients thoroughly
  • Then, store your yaji sauce in an airtight container for future use

You can use this spice to marinate meat for grills especially suya and even for serving grilled beef too

Yajichurri Sauce

  • Similar to yaji, yajichurri is an all-purpose spice paste that can be added to enhance the flavor of anything you cook with it.

From stew to moi moi, to egg sauce, to jollof rice, fried rice, okro soup, efo riro, beans, and the list keeps ongoing.

Homemade suya spice blend picture
Homemade suya spice blend picture