African Style Piri Piri Sauce

Posted on 25 Nov 2013 16:18

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The Piri piri, of African Bird's Eye chile, is a small, fiery hot chile that is popular in Africa and Portugal, and is used to make maddeningly hot salsas that are bottled and put on all kinds of food.

Here is given a hot sauce made with piri piri, the kind you might find in Africa and Portugal.

Africans got the idea of sauces made with this little chile from the Portuguese, who are said to be responsible for introducing the chile there.

First, however, the video below gives the Scoville heat rating of the piri piri pepper and some other facts about the chile.

Watch the video below or view it on YouTube: Piri Piri (African Bird's Eye Chile) Scoville Heat Units: How Hot is It?

Piri Piri Video Transcript

The Piri piri, also called the African Bird's Eye chile, the African Devil, or peri peri, with an "e," or pili pili, is a favorite chile in East Africa, and is also grown in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and other parts of Africa. They use this pepper to make super hot sauces that are bottled and used on all sorts of foods. It's a cousin of the tabasco chile, and the Thai peppers, and came from the American continent, and must have been transported from America to Africa. It is also found in Portugal, and is a favorite there, and the Portuguese may have been responsible for bringing it to Africa, to Mozambique and Angola. The name piri piri is Swahili for "pepper pepper." In Portugal, the name Piri Piri also refers to a sauce that is made from the peppers.

This small pepper and it's cousins are members of a group of peppers called frutescens, but that are commonly called "bird peppers" or "wild bird peppers." These peppers are very hot, but various ratings have been given. Many sources report 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Heat Units, which makes sense, since that's about the same as a tabasco chile. However, more commonly, a range of 50,000 to 175,000 is given. Being that the sauces made from it are sometimes called "Hell Sauce," the latter rating is likely to be correct. It is possible that many other similar peppers could be confused for this pepper, however, since some of its relatives are also called bird's eye peppers.

Piri Piri African Hot Sauce

This recipe is borrowed from Mark Miller's Salsas of the World, which is a great source of hot sauce recipes from all over the world.


1/4 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
3 tbs canola oil
2 tbs piri piri powder
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 cup water
2 tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
14 cup white vinegar
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs Sriracha chile sauce


Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan over low heat, add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook for 7 minutes. Stir in the piri piri powder and paprika and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the tomato juice, tomato paste, and salt and cook for 5 more minutes. Cool slightly and blend the cooked mixture in a food processor or blender. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, and Sriracha sauce.

This recipe makes 2 cups. The sauce is very very hot! Great for creole recipes!

Note: Powder is used because it is difficult to get the fresh peppers outside of Portugal. Dried peppers can also be used. Chop them fine and then blend well at the end. You can substitute cayenne, pequin, and/or habanero for the piri piri.

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