This hot pepper sauce is hugely popular in Portugal and its former colonies Cape Verde, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and Goa, as well as in Britain, the U.S., Australia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. It can be slathered onto chicken, sausages, fish, or seafood before grilling or roasting, or stirred into marinades — you can even use it in place of hot sauce in cocktails such as the Bloody Mary.
Chilli peppers were native to South America originally, but piri piri peppers have grown in Africa for centuries, probably travelling across the Atlantic with Portuguese traders and then cross-pollinating to create the tiny spicy chillies we have today.
There’s a bit of confusion about whether malegueta, piri piri chillies and African bird’s eye chillies are all exactly the same thing, as often they are labelled interchangeably. Whatever the label says, these are small and pretty fierce, and only used once they turn from green to red. They are extremely hot, which is why I wear gloves to prepare them, and am scrupulous about cleaning up afterwards. (You really, really don’t want to touch delicate skin or your eyes after handling one of these.) I always remove the seeds and ribs of each chilli, but true chilli heads may like to leave them in. The whisky might seem like a strange addition, but it is added for preservation purposes more than for flavour. — Rebecca Seal, author of Lisbon
- 4 garlic cloves
- 4 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 large medium-hot red chilli peppers, seeds and ribs removed
- 2 piri piri, malagueta, or African bird’s eye chillies, seeds and ribs removed
- 2 sweet red (bell) peppers, halved, ribs and seeds removed
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Teaspoon fine salt
- 1 Teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Teaspoon hot piri piri powder (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons whisky
Thoroughly clean a heatproof jar (including the lid) in hot soapy water, then place the jar in a low oven for 15 minutes.
Place all the ingredients into a blender and purée until roughly combined. Taste and decide whether you would like more heat; add another chilli or even 2 if you really like heat. (The fieriness of the paste will be weakened by cooking, so go for slightly more heat than you think you like.) Purée until really smooth, then transfer to the clean, sterilized jar, seal and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.