My husband knows exactly when to surprise me with one of my favourite dishes, which is why he treated the family to a delicious peri-peri chicken for dinner the other night. As we sat around the table enjoying our meal together, the wonderful flavours evoked memories from my childhood and the fantastic holidays we spent in Beira in Mozambique. There, we all loved to eat small cubes of peri-peri chicken in bowls with dainty cubes of Portuguese bread to mop up the spicy gravy.
I also have fond recollections of a time in Zanzibar when I was fortunate to receive a demonstration from a local woman, who shared her tips on how to make a traditional peri-peri sauce with the all-important key ingredient: bird’s-eye chilies. (In Swahili, this chilli is known as ‘pili pili’ (‘pepper pepper’), which rolls off the tongue more easily, I think.)
She showed me how to make slits all over the chicken pieces before marinating them in the spicy marinade, which allowed the flavours to thoroughly permeate through the meat. The chicken was then cooked over an open fire, giving it that genuine flame-grilled flavour South Africans know and love so well.
You can also use the sauce when cooking a whole chicken, but remember to continuously baste the bird throughout the cooking process, or, even better, spatchcock it and cook over braai coals. It’s also perfect for making spicy chicken wings, and if you want to try your hand at making a prego roll, simply fry flattened chicken breasts in the sauce and top with lettuce, tomato and onion. Even chicken livers love it. Pan-fry the livers and then let them simmer in the peri-peri sauce until cooked to your liking.
With so many ways to enjoy it, I know you’re going to love this recipe as much as I do. Find my peri-peri recipe here.