Peri Peri Chicken: South Africa’s Gift to the World By Nourishing Africa

Image Credit: Little Kitchen. Big World


Peri Peri Chicken is a spicy dish which contains roots in both Portugal and Africa. The name ‘piri piri’ derives from Swahili and refers to the African Bird’s Eye Pepper or African Red Devil Pepper. It is often thought of as a Portuguese dish, but its history originates in Angola and Mozambique. When the Portuguese settlers came across the African Bird’s Eye pepper, they made it into a marinade which they brought back to Europe. Today the origin of the recipe is debated between the Portuguese-Angolans and the Portuguese-Mozambicans however this dish is a prime example of culinary fusion which has now become world-renowned.

The famous peri peri marinade contains African Birds Eye chilli, garlic, vinegar, paprika and red wine. Bird’s Eye chilli grows wild in Africa, however, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Uganda cultivate it on a commercial level.   A plant produces for three years, then it is ploughed back into the ground. These peppers can be quite labour intensive as they are required to be hand-picked.


In the 1980s peri peri chicken become very popular in South African and in 1987, Nando’s was founded in Johannesburg. Nando’s has now become an international restaurant chain with over 1000 restaurants in over 35 countries and are renowned for their peri peri style chicken dishes. Today the dish is eaten around the world.

This dish contains protein and the chilli peppers themselves contain Vitamin C, B6 and A as well as potassium and copper.