You may have noticed a new chicken chain floating throughout the US. Nando’s hails from Southern Africa, but they specialize in Portuguese flame-grilled chicken.
If your African history isn’t up to scratch, just know that the Portuguese colonized a few areas of the continent, including Mozambique and Angola. Unless you have a strong stomach (and you might just if you’re a chili head), the details of Portugal’s withdrawal from the continent aren’t for you. It wasn’t very pretty.
However, the Portuguese stamped their mark on the cuisine in Southern Africa; you’ll find it damn near anywhere. And, Nando’s flame-grilled chicken is just a part of that scene. After conquering the British market (funny how food travels, isn’t it?), this fast-casual chain has made its way to the United States.
What Is Peri-Peri Sauce Exactly?
Part of what makes Nando’s so special is the range of peri-peri sauces you can add to your chicken. (And, we know that you’re not the type to opt for the lemon and herb sauce. Why would you waste flame-grilled chicken on that?)
Peri-peri sauce is a combination of Portuguese flavors mixed with African Bird’s Eye chili peppers. And, if you haven’t tried it yet, prepare to become addicted ADDICTED.
You’ll find the African Bird’s Eye chili throughout Southern Africa, and interestingly, in Goa, India. (You should be able to find the common Portuguese thread there, by the way.) It’s not that hot in the modern sense; peppers range between 50K and 175K on the Scoville Scale. It’s warm but totally doable.
Peri-peri (which means pepper pepper) sauce is created from crushed chilies, onions, and lovely herbs and spices. Of course, the recipe varies depending on the roots of the sauce. Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce recipe hails from the Mozambique side of the African continent.
Have a Few African Bird’s Eye Chilies on Hand?
You don’t need a Nando’s to enjoy incredible peri-peri sauce at home. For a start, you can pick up a bottle of Mad Dog’s Liquid Fire hot sauce. It’s INCREDIBLE.
Or, you can always try making peri-peri sauce yourself… if you have a few African Bird’s Eye chili peppers on hand. Start with this recipe and then adapt it to suit your tastes.
Homemade Peri-Peri Sauce
2-3 each African Bird’s Eye chilies, chopped
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1 medium Red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
½ teaspoon Ground cumin
2 tablespoons Red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
¼ cup Water
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon Black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped peppers, onion, garlic, and cumin. Sauté for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Transfer this mixture to a food processor and add the vinegar, lemon juice, water, salt, and pepper. Blitz into a smooth paste, and season to taste.
Allow cooling before storing in the fridge, while thinking about how much easier it would have been to pick up a bottle of Liquid Fire.