The History of Peri Peri Chicken: From Africa to Your Plate

History of Peri Peri Chicken

Peri Peri chicken is a culinary delight known for its bold flavors and fiery kick. Originating from the continent of Africa, this flavorful dish has made its way to plates around the world. We will dive into the fascinating history of Peri Peri chicken, exploring its African roots, the evolution of the Peri Peri sauce, and how this delectable dish has become a global sensation.

The African Origins of Peri Peri Chicken

Peri Peri chicken finds its roots in the African continent, particularly in the regions of Mozambique and Angola. The name “Peri Peri” is derived from the Swahili word “Piri Piri,” which translates to “pepper pepper.” The key ingredient of this fiery dish is the African Bird’s Eye Chili, also known as Peri Peri, which grows abundantly in these regions.

The African Bird’s Eye Chili was brought to Africa by Portuguese explorers during colonization. The chili quickly became an integral part of African cuisine, with locals using it to add heat and flavor to their dishes. Over time, the chili pepper found its way into Africans’ hearts and taste buds, leading to the creation of Peri Peri chicken.

The Evolution of Peri Peri Sauce

The Peri Peri sauce, a crucial component of Peri Peri chicken, has undergone its own evolution over the years. Originally, the sauce consisted of the African Bird’s Eye Chili, combined with local spices and ingredients such as garlic, vinegar, and salt. This simple yet potent mixture provided the fiery flavor that Peri Peri chicken is known for.

As the dish gained popularity and spread beyond Africa, variations of the Peri Peri sauce emerged. Different regions and cultures added their own twists to the sauce, incorporating ingredients such as lemon juice, paprika, oregano, and olive oil. These additions brought complexity and depth to the sauce, enhancing its flavor profile and making it even more irresistible.

Peri Peri Chicken Goes Global

Peri Peri chicken’s journey from Africa to global fame began with Portuguese colonization and exploration. Portuguese sailors and traders introduced the dish to their colonies and trading posts around the world, spreading its popularity throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

In recent years, the Peri Peri chicken chain Nando’s has played a significant role in popularizing the dish. With its unique Peri Peri sauces and delectable grilled chicken, Nando’s has become synonymous with Peri Peri chicken, expanding its reach to countries far and wide.

Peri Peri Chicken: A Modern Delight

Today Peri Peri chicken is enjoyed by people from various cultures and backgrounds. It has become a versatile dish that can be prepared in different ways, from grilling to baking and even frying. The Peri Peri sauce has become a staple in many kitchens, offering a quick and flavorful way to spice up meals.

To experience the flavors of Peri Peri chicken at home, here’s a homemade peri peri chicken recipe to try:


  • Chicken (whole or cut into pieces): 1.5 kg (approximately)
  • Peri Peri Sauce: 1 cup (homemade or store-bought)
  • Olive oil: 2 tablespoons
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon
  • Lemon wedges and fresh herbs for garnish


  1. In a bowl, combine the Peri Peri sauce, olive oil, and salt.
  2. Place the chicken in the bowl and coat it thoroughly with the sauce mixture. Let it marinate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, in the refrigerator.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  4. Grill the chicken for about 6-8 minutes per side or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. After it’s cooked, take out the chicken from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes.
  6. Garnish the Peri Peri chicken with fresh herbs and serve with lemon wedges for an extra zesty touch.


Peri Peri chicken, with its African origins and bold flavors, has captured the hearts and taste buds of people worldwide. The evolution of the Peri Peri sauce and its incorporation into global cuisines has further solidified its popularity.

From the shores of Africa to your plate, Peri Peri chicken showcases the rich history and vibrant culinary traditions of the regions it represents. Whether enjoyed at home, in local eateries, or at renowned Peri Peri chicken chains, this dish continues to delight food enthusiasts with its fiery kick and tantalizing flavors.


Q1: Is Peri Peri chicken always spicy?

A1: Peri Peri chicken is known for its spiciness, but the heat level can be adjusted to suit individual preferences. To adjust the level of spiciness, you can either increase or decrease the amount of chili peppers used or opt for milder chili varieties.

 Q2: Can I use a store-bought Peri Peri sauce?

A2: Yes, store-bought Peri Peri sauces are widely available and can be used to prepare Peri Peri chicken. However, making your sauce allows for customization and the use of fresh ingredients.

 Q3: Can Peri Peri chicken be cooked in the oven?

A3: Absolutely! If you can’t access a grill, Peri Peri chicken can be cooked in the oven. To cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 200°C and bake until the internal temperature reaches 74°C.

 Q4: What are some popular side dishes to serve with Peri Peri chicken?

A4: When it comes to serving Peri Peri chicken, several side dishes go well with it. These include grilled vegetables, rice, roasted potatoes, and fresh salad. These sides help to bring out the bold flavors of the chicken and make for a well-rounded and satisfying meal.

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