My first introduction to Peri-Peri was when I moved to London in my teens. My mates took me to the infamous Nandos restaurant during our lunch break. It was the first commercial where I tasted anything close to my Nigerian palate. I had roasted corn, thick fried potatoes, green peas, fried rice and of course the spicy peri-peri chicken. I was pleased and soon enough Nandos became a go-to option for hanging with friends as it is with most young Londoners. Peri-peri is a sauce that is usually used in cooking grilled/roasted chicken, hence the popularity of peri-peri chicken. However, similar to the Nigerian suya spice mix, Peri-peri is a versatile sauce. I opted for these oven-grilled peri-peri turkey drumsticks for a more festive flare. Other options could be peri-peri ham, grilled fish and so on.
So what is the origin of Peri-Peri:
It is unclear where Peri-Peri originates from. There are several claims but these three countries are the common denominator: South Africa, Mozambique, and Portugal. There are talks that the name peri-peri (also known as Piri-Piri) originates from a mix of Portuguese and Swahili, which translates to pepper-pepper. The peri-peri sauce is a result of cross-cultural influences.
So what goes into making the Perinase:
“Perinase” is my chosen name for the peri-peri sauce. Which simply means peri-peri marinade. The base of the sauce is peppers. Specifically two peppers. One regular sweet red bell pepper. The other is the African bird’s eye chilli pepper. The chilli itself was a local ingredient in some South African and West African countries in pre-colonial times. The debate is who decided that this spicy chilli mixed with some garlic and herbs would result in something delicious. There are so many variations of the peri-peri recipe today. There are choices between lemon or lime, basil or parsley. Either way, this sauce cannot easily go wrong and it shows in this peri-peri turkey drumstick.
If you like this recipe for peri-peri turkey and want to learn more about foods from the African diaspora, you might also like Extra nutty Cocadas – An introduction to Panamanian cuisine.
Oven grilled peri-peri turkey drumsticks
- 3 birds eye chilli
- 2 garlic clove
- 1 onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lime
- 5 g parsley
- 2 turkey thigh
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Chop and put the onions and red bell pepper into a blender or food processor, together with the garlic, birds eye chilli and parsley.
- Pour in the olive oil, the juice of one lime and its zest. Blend all together into a paste.
- Pour the blended sauce into a jar or container.
- Place the turkey drumsticks on a plate or tray, season with salt and pepper. Pour a tablespoon of the sauce each on the turkey. Using a brush, slather the sauce into each piece or rub it in with your fingers.
- Wrap the turkey in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour.
- Transfer the turkey to a baking dish and place it in a preheated oven.
- Grill for 1 hour. Whilst it's cooking, occasionally baste the turkey with its own juice. Also, slather an extra tablespoon of peri-peri sauce on the turkey. Grill for a further 30 minutes.
- Once cooked, turn the oven off and let the turkey rest for a few minutes, then serve with a side of extra peri-peri sauce and enjoy.