Where does peri peri chicken come from?
The name comes from the Swahili language which was used within central and eastern Africa as a way for people to communicate amongst themselves as there are literally hundreds of different languages spoken in that region. Pili pili is the name that was originally given to the African bird’s eye chilli within the Mozambican community. When this spread to the surrounding areas, most notably South Africa, people began to call it peri peri (the name we know it by today)
Mozambique has a rich cultural mix of local people, Indians (mainly from Goa) and Portuguese. This fusion of culture brought about very rich and spicy food dishes. Chillies are used in many of the meals and peri peri chicken is one the better known meals that spread across and have become a favourite in Southern Africa.
The Process of making the marinade.
There are many variations of this out there, but this is the way that our family made the peri peri marinade:
2 to 6 African birds-eye red chillies (depending on heat required)
Juice of one lemon (take out the pips but leave the pulp in)
1/2 tsp of chilli powder
1/2 tsp med curry powder
1 tsp paprika powder
1/2 cup oil
5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tomato sauce (same as tomato ketchup)
Salt and pepper
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
50 mL wine vinegar (red wine vinegar is best)
Blend all ingredients until smooth and refrigerate until needed. You can see how the different cultures have had their say in this recipe.
Some points to note
You may not be able to get the African bird’s eye chilli where you are. You can use the chillies that you find in you areas or shops. You would be better off going with the hotter chillies and just using less (this is what we did depending on who had joined us for food) I would always advise starting off with a little less chilli and adding more as opposed to the other way round.
Preparing the chicken for the braai
I find that it is best to do this the night before you are planning to have the BBQ (Braai).
Many people like to cut up the chicken into pieces. Personally, I like my chickens whole. I like to spatchcock my chicken and then once cleaned, add it to a deep set container and cover with the marinade that you have just made. You can do this the on the day of the BBQ but I think that it tastes better when it has been left over night.
If you want to get really fancy you can stab the chicken in the meaty bits like the breast and thighs as this will help get some of the marinade in there. Make sure that you cover the chicken when you have it in the fridge.
Cooking the chicken
It is time for the BBQ, you have a fire going and everything is ready for your feast. In Zimbabwe it is the men that cook the meat and the woman that make the salads and sadza or rice. Having a Braai (BBQ) has always been one of the best ways to spend a sunny afternoon. For red meats I love sadza but for this meal I like rice, if you have the best rice cooker you can find out how to cook different types of rice from this article