Piri Piri sauce

Piri Piri Sauce

Piri-Piri Sauce

Piri Piri sauce (pili-pili, piri-piri and peri-peri) is one of Portugal’s gift to the world and what a wonderful gift it is too. The sauce has put South African owned restaurant chain, Nandos, the home of the legendary Portuguese flame-grilled peri-peri chicken on the map. Their chickens are flame-grilled primarily with Piri Piri sauce to create that smoky, juicy and somewhat addictive taste.

Piri-piri or peri-peri is Swahili for ‘pepper-pepper’ otherwise known as the African birds-eye chilies. It is a hot chili that comes originally from Mozambique, where it was adopted by Portuguese settlers. The peppers and the sauce are common in several parts of Africa including South Africa, Angola, Namibia and Mozambique.

Like many other sauces in the world, there is no one particular recipe but a variety of them. Every region lays claim to a particular combination of ingredients to create their version of piri piri sauce. The most basic of Piri Piri sauces calls for African birds eye chilies, onions, salt and lemon juice. A richer and more sohisticated recipe will have in addition, paprika, bay leaves and herbs like tarragon, oregano or basil.

Traditionally the ingredients for piri piri would have been ground in a mortar. These days a simple blender does the trick with a bit of olive oil added to create the rub. Chicken, beef, shrimp, prawn and other grilled meat taste great with piri piri sauce.

To bet the best results, use piri piri to marinate overnight or at least for half an hour so that the flavour goes right through to the bone. Regularly basting your meat while it sizzles away is also key.

Apparently, as well as getting your meat, prawns and chicken to taste great, Piri-Piri releases endorphins in your body which create a sense of joy and happiness and gives you oomph! I guess you can’t ask for more.

“Bom Proveito!” as they say in Portuguese!

Piri Piri Spice Mix Marinade

Click to get the recipe for Piri Piri sauce



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  1. Grilled Piri Piri Prawns

    […] or outdoor grill wherever you are to recreate the piri piri flavour. As we demonstrated here – Making the Piri Piri sauce – all you need for a basic sauce are African birds eye chilies, paprika, olive oil, garlic […]


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