Peri peri, also known as piri-piri or African bird's eye chili, has a rich history rooted in Africa. The chili itself is native to the continent and has been cultivated for centuries. The origins of peri peri sauce can be traced to Portuguese explorers and traders who traveled to Africa during the Age of Discovery. During their voyages, the Portuguese encountered the fiery chili peppers and recognized their potential as a flavor enhancer. They brought the chili peppers back to Portugal and introduced them to their cuisine.
The name "piri piri" comes from the Swahili word for "pepper," which reflects the East African influence on the spice. In Portugal, peri peri became popular in the southern region, particularly in the Algarve, where it was combined with other ingredients to create a spicy sauce. The sauce traditionally consists of piri piri chilies, garlic, lemon or vinegar, and salt, all blended together to form a fiery and tangy condiment.
With the Portuguese colonization of Africa, piri piri sauce spread to the Portuguese colonies, including Mozambique and Angola. It quickly became an integral part of the local cuisines in these regions, incorporating indigenous flavors and culinary techniques. Piri piri sauce became especially associated with Mozambique, where it is a staple condiment and an essential component of the popular dish known as peri-peri chicken.
Over time, peri peri sauce gained international recognition and popularity. Today, it can be found in various forms and adaptations across the globe, with different regions and cultures adding their own twist to the recipe. The spicy and flavorful nature of piri piri has made it a favorite ingredient in marinades, rubs, and sauces, adding a distinctive kick to grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables.
4 bone-in skin-on chicken leg quarters, or a whole fryer chicken
2 tablespoons avocado oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 red chili peppers, finely chopped (adjust according to your spice preference)
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt and black pepper to taste
Peri Peri Sauce
4 red chili peppers stemmed and roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons melted ghee
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
- Preheat your grill or oven to medium-high heat.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, chopped chili peppers, paprika, dried oregano, dried thyme, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Mix well to create a marinade.
- Place the chicken in a large zip-top bag or a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure each piece is well-coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish and let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
- Meanwhile, prepare the peri peri sauce. In a blender or food processor, combine the chopped chili peppers, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, melted ghee, paprika, and salt. Blend until you achieve a smooth sauce consistency. Set aside.
- Once the chicken has marinated, remove it from the bag or dish and discard any excess marinade. Place the chicken on the preheated grill or in a baking dish if using the oven.
- Cook the chicken for about 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is crispy and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Baste the chicken with the peri peri sauce during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Remove the chicken from the grill or oven and let it rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute and ensures moist and tender meat.
- Serve the peri peri chicken hot, garnished with freshly chopped parsley. You can also drizzle some additional peri peri sauce over the chicken if desired.