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Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Last month for Easter I wrote about a Portuguese dessert called “fios de ovos” and I got a nice reply of someone who prefers savory dishes instead, specially spice. Jonathan Jones told me he fell in love with our grilled chicken and the chilli sauce that goes with it and even asked me for the recipe. All of this then gave me an idea: how about I wrote about piri piri?

Fresh piri piri peppers. Picture taken from algarvedining.com

Well, piri piri, also known as the African bird's eye chilli, is the Portuguese language version of an African dialect word - “peri peri” -, meaning “pepper pepper”.
It is said that it was Colombo, at the end of the 15th century, who brought this type of chilli to Europe and it were the Portuguese who spread it around the world, specially Africa, through their trade. It seems that the seed took very well to the sub-Saharan soil and this pepper quickly became part not only of the Portuguese cuisine, but also throughout the Portuguese colonies (mainly Angola and Mozambique) and other of it's trading posts. Also the black slavery trade must have contributed to it's dissemination.
There are many forms to use this pepper: fresh, dried, as a sauce, etc. In fact, it is eaten in such large quantities and from such an early ages on, that there are many people that put it in almost everything they eat, even soups.

Dried piri piri chillies. Picture taken from saltofportugal.com

Now, what is so interesting about piri piri is it's famous sauce, which is recognized of Portuguese origin. And one of the most used manner to taste the sauce is over a grilled chicken.
We have 2 kind of sauces: the freshly squashed with other spices and the one kept in oil. I'll give you both recipes and next time you eat a grilled chicken (on charcoal, please!) you can decide which one to use.

1st recipe, the spiced version (as on the link below):
-250ml (1 cup) of virgin olive oil
-4 medium sized piri piri chillies with seeds
-8 large dried piri piri chillies
-3 large garlic cloves
-3 tablesp. of spirit
-1 teasp. of lemon zest
-1 tablesp. of lemon juice
-2 tablesp of red wine vinegar
-5 to 6 bay leafs
-1 teasp. of coarse salt
-1 teasp. of black pepper corns

You can grind or squash it all together if you prefer and keep it in a sterilized bottle or jar.

2nd recipe, the oil version:
-40g of grinned dried piri piri chillies
-Regular cooking oil
-1 sterilized bottle or jar
Don't shake the ingredients because air might ruin the flavor, just stir.

Both of the recipes keep for a long time and the longer you keep it, the stronger the flavor.

If you want to read a bit more, here's an article of the Chicago Tribune:

And if you want to buy a book with traditional Portuguese recipes written in English, just go to:

Well folks, here it is, enjoy!

1 comment:

carojon said...

Thank you Sara, with summer approaching and, hopefully, some decent barbecue weather, I am looking forward to trying this recipe out.