This peri-peri sauce is the only recipe you’ll need to replicate your favourite high street chain restaurant’s menu. It’s packed with spice and flavour and easy to make.
What is a Peri-Peri Marinade?
The sauce known as Peri-peri sauce is famous throughout the United Kingdom due to the success of the South African chicken chain called Nando’s. However, the sauce first originated during the early days of the Portuguese empire. Traders would mix peppers from Asia with homemade condiments, which would later evolve into an earlier form of peri-peri sauce.
The Portuguese exported these sauces to their vast territory in Asia. Most notably in southern Africa, in what is now known as Mozambique. Nowadays, the sauce is synonymous with Nando’s. Still, recipes vary, with the main ingredients being garlic and chilli. These sauces are usually mixed with oil and acidic ingredients such as lemon juice.
Where does the Name Peri-Peri Come From?
Well, put simply, it comes from the name of the chilli. The African bird’s eye chilli, to be precise. The name Peri-peri derives from the Swahili word Pilli-Pilli, meaning pepper. Like all chillies, the peri-peri chilli originated in Central America but spread through Portuguese expansion into Africa. Now, the chilli can be found across Africa, and it’s even cultivated in Portugal.
If you can’t find peri-peri chillies, other suitable alternatives include scotch bonnet chillies and Thai bird’s eye chillies, as they both have a slightly fruity flavour but an incredibly spicy heat.
Cooking the Vegetables for Peri-Peri Sauce
Cooking the vegetables to use the sauce as a marinade isn’t strictly necessary; however, if you want a sauce to use as a condiment, I highly recommend cooking the vegetables. Softening the onions and red peppers helps bring out the sweeter flavours, resulting in a sweeter sauce made acidic with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
- 150 ml Olive Oil
- 1 Large White Onion Roughly Chopped
- 2 Red Peppers Seeds removed and Roughly Chopped
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 3 Cloves of Garlic Roughly Chopped
- 1-5 Birds Eye Chillies Scotch Bonnet or Peri Peri Chillies (if you can find them.) The amount Depends on your preferred Spice Level
- 1 ½ Tbsp Paprika
- 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
- 1 Tbsp Thyme Leaves
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- 50 ml Apple Cider Vinegar
- Juice of 2 Lemons
- Over low heat, soften the onion, peppers, and bay leaves in a little of the olive oil and a pinch of salt for approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your prepared vegetables.`
- Once the vegetables have softened, add the chilli, garlic, spices, herbs, and lemon zest and cook for a further minute.
- Transfer everything to a blender, then mix with the lemon zest, juice, vinegar, and olive oil.
- Leave to cool.
- Allow to stand overnight for the flavour to develop.