My 5-Ingredient “Peri Peri” Sauce Is Famous Among My Friends

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If you love a spicy condiment like sriracha or harissa paste, you’re going to love zingy peri peri sauce. Growing up in Southern Africa, I was familiar with peri peri because of Nando’s, the famous chicken chain that spread the popularity of Mozambique’s peri-peri across the region (as well as parts of Asia, the UK, and beyond). But it became a more integral part of my life when I met my Mozambican husband.

In Mozambique, there are few dishes that one wouldn’t add peri peri (or piri piri, as it’s called there) to, and there’s always a jar of it on the table. Made from the African bird’s eye chiles that grow abundantly in the region, it’s a kitchen staple and is used as both a marinade (like for a whole grilled spatchcock chicken) or as a sauce that you can simply spoon over some fish cooked on a stovetop. 

My History with Peri Peri Sauce

In previous years, jars of peri peri in concentrated form, made from chiles grown in my mother-in-law’s garden, traveled across borders and airport checks to make it to our kitchen table. However, when I learned how easy it was to make, this felt silly and we started to make our own fresh batches at home every few weeks. Traditionally, a paste of chiles, garlic and onion is first mashed up in a pestle and mortar, but we’ve been making it in a blender and it couldn’t be easier. 

This recipe is the traditional peri-peri recipe with the essentials. I’ve worked out these amounts according to what my ideal peri peri sauce would taste and feel like. However, there are no strict rules about amounts when it comes to adding the oil and acid. People also tend to customize it and add ginger, spices, or different types of chiles (including green chiles). You should make it according to your taste preference (whether you like it more acidic or with a stronger chile flavor), or to the consistency you like (more thick or more runny). A warning that this sauce is all about the chiles, and it’s hot. 

Key Ingredients in Peri Peri Sauce

How to Make Peri Peri Sauce

While the recipe calls for red African bird’s eye or Thai chiles, you can make this with whatever type of fresh chiles you find. If you can’t handle a lot of heat, opt for using chiles that are less spicy, or (while this is veering away from the traditional) even mix in a little bit of red pepper to tone it down. 

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

Sealed in an airtight jar, the sauce will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator.

What to Serve with Peri Peri Sauce

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