Let’s talk botany
Piri piri, also called pili-pili, is a variety of hot peppers in the Capsicum frutescens species. There are many varieties in this species such as Capsicum frutescens tabasco, the base of the popular brand name sauce. However, certain sources classify the frutescens variety in the same family as the Capsicum annuum species. With well over 50 000 varieties of known hot pepper varieties, it is quite easy to mix them up!
Piri piri is also known as “African Bird’s Eye” or “African devil”. It is a Cayenne type of hot pepper, red, small and pointy.
The origin of piri piri
Of African origin, this pepper is widely used in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Portugal, Brazil and Angola. Brought over by the Portuguese in the 15th century, they are the original creators of the famous Piri Piri sauce.
The plant has grown in the wild for ages, but the pepper is now mainly cultivated for food processing.
Piri piri, containing 50,000 to 100,000 heat units, is considered a level 8 or “torrid” on the Scoville scale, equivalent to the Cayenne pepper. The Scoville scale, invented in 1912 by pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, was created to record the capsaicin content of a pepper, the molecule responsible for how “hot” the spice is.
Higher the capsaicin levels, hotter the pepper will be!
Piri piri is consumed dry, reduced to a powder and in spice mixes.
Our Piri Piri Spice Mix is made with basil, cayenne, cumin, oregano, paprika, black pepper, rosemary, thyme, onion and salt. It will give a “kick” to any one of your dishes.
The traditional Piri piri sauce is used as a marinade or for seasoning. It is mainly composed of peppers of course. The recipe varies depending on regions, but it generally contains oil, lemon or lime, onions, salt, pepper, bay leaves, paprika, basil, oregano and tarragon. If you have ever eaten a deliciously seasoned chicken in a Portuguese rotisserie, it was most likely seasoned with Piri piri sauce!