Yaji, aka suya spice is a smoky, peanutty spice blend with great flavour and tenderising qualities. It is the dry rub that defines one of Nigeria’s best-known streetfood – Suya.
The peanuts in the blend are ground and ‘defatted’ (by wetting with water and pressing) to extract the oils which might cause the nuts to go rancid. The ground peanuts are then mixed with other aromatics to create a blend that works beautifully with meats, roasted vegetables, sauces and vinagrettes.
1. Use like spice in stir fries and sauces. Add to batters – everything from pancake to waffles and akara, puff puff (and indomie noodles, some say)
2. Great rub for meats, fish and vegetables. Make homemade Suya Chicken or Fish
Sprinkle yaji over vegetables – carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, onions, bell peppers etc. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 180 degrees C in the centre of an oven, stirring every 10 minutes or so till brown and cooked. Or do as I did with my butternnut Squash
3. Make a Nigerian version of Kelewele, spicy Ghanaian fried plantains. Works beautifully for fried yam and potatoes.
Toss diced plantains in yaji and deep fry for a few minutes till golden brown. Alternatively drizzle with olive oil and bake at 180 degrees C in the centre of an oven.
4. Combine with sugar for sweet and spice. Mix with granulated white sugar and sprinkle on Masa or Crumpets, pancakes, French Toast and waffles. Or toss warm puff puff or buns in same mix.
5. Make a compound butter
Combine with softened unsalted butter. Roll into a log. Cut of slices and use to top steaks, or fry eggs…spread on bread.
Stir in to warm peanut butter to take it up a notch/ for a kick/ spicy paste – great as a spread, cooked in a sauce, delicious.
6. Dress your salad – sprinkle yaji over the top or add to your salad dressing.
There, 6 things to do with yaji.
What would you do? How would you use it?