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Kilishi, The Northern Nigerian Snack

Kilishi is a spicy Nigerian beef jerky that forms part of the food culture of Northern Nigeria. Its making is one of the pillars of rural economy in Northern Nigeria. In that part of the country, this primordial pursuit is family business, one that is passed from one generation to the next. Northern Nigeria is the cattle headquarters in Nigeria and cattle is the main ingredient for kilishi. This delicacy can also be prepared with mutton. However, the ones prepared from beef lasts longer than the ones prepared from mutton.

Kilishi is allegedly a product of man’s effort to preserve excess meat. When the demand for this meat delicacy increased, people started making it for sale. One result of this attempt to balance demand and supply is financial sustenance for families who specialize in the business. Kilishi is one of the few northern snacks that have gained nationwide acceptance. In fact, for most people, it is one of the best gifts any traveler from Northern Nigeria would bring. Maureen, my roommate at the university used to live in Nasarawa State and she never disappointed in kilishi matters. It is also in high demand outside Nigeria. People buy and export large quantities of this snack to their loved ones residing outside Nigeria.

Kilishi is a close relation of the Nigerian suya. They share similar ingredients but differ in preparation and texture. Again, unlike suya, kilishi can stay for months without changing its taste. The beef for kilishi is usually cut from the reddest part of the beef where there is no fat at all. This is best done by the mai kilishis (kilishi butchers) who are said to have the sharpest knives in the world. 

The beef is sliced thinly. It is this thinness that differentiates kilishi from other beef and mutton recipes. After slicing the beef, both sides of it is oiled with groundnut oil and then spread out on a surface referred to as stick beds. They are traditionally sun dried for about three days. However, with the help of an oven the beef jerky will be ready in an hour. Other ingredients used in making kilishi are suya spice, garlic, cloves, ginger, stock cubes, dry cayenne pepper and salt. Bear in mind that what makes one better than the other is the quality and quantity of ingredients used in its preparation. So, be generous with the ingredients.

Kilishi can be taken alone as a snack. It can also be enjoyed with soft drink or a cup of ice cold soaked garri.


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Featured image source: Wikipedia

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Obiamaka Angela Udevi

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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