During my trip to India, I learned that the infamous piri piri chile (also called peri peri, pili pili and bird’s eye chile) that originated in Africa was introduced to the Portuguese and then spread to its colonies, one of which was Goa. These chiles, which look innocuous with their small size of an inch in length, start with a green color and turn red when mature. The heat level of these innocent looking chiles is at the top of the Scoville scale and ranges from 100,000 to 225,000 SHUs (Scoville Heat Units). Its heat is triple that of the Thai chile pepper which is commonly available across the U.S. These chiles are not for the faint of heart or sensitive tastes.
During our visit to a spice plantation in Goa, my husband purchased a few bags of them for me. I am thankful that he did because I cannot find them in grocery stores in the U.S. (They are available online.) I wish he had purchased the whole box of packets because the aroma of the dried piri piri chiles is wonderful. They have a slightly smoky scent like smoked paprika but I can tell with one whiff that they pack a punch. If you cannot find them easily, I would recommend using dried Thai red chiles or Mexican piquin chiles instead.
Piri Piri Chile Sauce is a simple staple to make and can be frozen for future use. After grinding the spices, they are fried with onions and then ground. The flavor is adjusted in the last step. It is very easy to make. Based on my research, my sauce is not as hot as an authentic Piri Piri Sauce but that makes it easier to use in recipes. I hope you love its flavor as much as I do.
This month’s recipe, Piri Piri Chicken Curry, gets its flavor from my Piri Piri Chile Sauce. Another easy to make recipe, it can be prepared in one pot. Just fry the onions and peppers in a small amount of oil, add the chicken and sauce, and you have dinner ready. It is best served with plain rice or Chapatis. I serve it with both rice and Chapatis with Onion Raita on the side to contrast with the heat of the curry.
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