Peanuts are pretty great. Snack foods are also pretty great. Fried foods are pretty great too. The national dish of Benin, Kuli Kuli is all three of those things.

What isn’t great, however, is my skill at high temp frying. Y’all I botched this one big time.

This is a recipe that I have to deviate from pretty heavily, since it calls for ginger. In this case I’ll be substituting with a combination of galangal and allspice. A true traditional recipe can be found on the All African Dishes blog.

I’ll be splitting my prep into two versions, one with cinnamon and one with old bay for a savory and a sweet version. Spicy/savory is more traditional, but you can do whatever you want.


  • 1 cup roasted peanuts (unsalted)
  • 1 tsp galangal powder
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • (optional) chili powder or other savory spice to your prefernce
  • (optional) cinnamon or other aromatic “dessert” spice to your preference
  • (optional) sliced onions or garlic to fry with the peanut for flavor
  • high temp oil for frying (peanut is most typical but any high temp oil will work)

Total prep for me was 45 minutes (20:15 to 21:00), your time will vary.

Here’s what you’re going to do:

  • Grind or process your spices and the peanuts together until you have a semi-smooth consistency; you don’t want a peanut butter/paste, it should still have a lot of texture
  • Press or squeeze the peanut mixture to remove as much oil as you can, add a little bit of water to make doughy, and shape the mixture into whatever shape you want – rings, discs, balls, whatever. This step was my first error – I figured I’d shape and fry simultaneously but at high temp you really need to have your kuli kulis ready to go. My whole sweet batch was more or less destroyed by this oversight.
  • Heat your oil on medium-high heat until right before it begins to smoke. If you’re making a savory prep with onions or garlic, add them to the oil now.
  • Fry your peanut mixture until deep golden brown – account for time to remove in the cooking, by the time I removed all mine from the heat the ones at the end were burned.
This was the right time to remove them. 30 seconds later was not.
  • Remove from oil and allow to drain so the kuli kuli is crunchy
  • That’s it! If you made a sweet prep you may want to dust with cinnamon sugar

Total time for me was one hour (20:15 to 21:15).

The absolute saddest little peanut balls ever