Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published June 15th 2014
Piri Piri is Tasty Tasty
It is no secret I spent my formative years in South Africa before migrating to Australia, so I landed here some years before Peri Peri sauce did and it was one of the things I missed along with biltong and melktert.
Peri Peri is a small hot chilli that grows on dwarf bushes over large parts of Africa. Peri Peri is Swaheli and means 'pepper, pepper'.
When they arrived as colonists in Africa the Portugese made it into a hot sauce, which is also rich and spicy. In South Africa the sauce is used on almost any meat or fish and comes in several shades of incandescence, usually spelled piri-piri, which is also the correct pronunciation in any spelling.
A few years ago in Australia Nandos set up their chain of fast, inexpensive, restaurants offering an option to the endless burgers of other chains and they have been immensely successful.
Offering take-away as well as dine-in the restaurants are decorated in a clean, up-market, style that is very appealing.
The menu is versatile, offering mostly chicken but in a wide variety. Plain cuts of chicken, whole chickens, chicken paella, burgers, wraps, and pitas alongside salads, rice, cous cous and chips.
Three of us took luncheon there and ate to satiety for $20 a head. We ordered a 'burger with the lot' ($13.95) which had chicken breast, lettuce, mayo, peri-peri chutney, bacon, cheese, caramelised onion and an egg. It comes with a purple flag proudly waving 'The Lot'.
A burger with 'The Lot' at Nando's (Photo by D Sutherland-Bruce)
We also ordered a 'Mixed Platter' ($27.85) of a half chicken, eight chicken ribs and four tenderloins of chicken. These are all prepared the special Nando's way, which is marinated for twenty-four hours before being flame-grilled in your choice of sauce.
And that choice is not an insignificant one - the options run from 'Plain-ish' all the way up to 'Extra Hot'. We picked 'mild', which was delicious - certainly not all that mild, but hot and spicy with great flavour.
A 'mixed platter' at Nando's (Photo by D Sutherland-Bruce)
In addition to the spicy sauce it's cooked in you can put your own dash of sauces from the sauce table on it of the same range. Curiously enough the 'Hot' and 'Extra Hot' are not that much hotter, but are a different blend of herbs and spices making for quite a different taste.
We accompanied this with soft drinks and a serve of 'Seriously Large Chips' ($7.95) in peri-peri salt to make a filling and satisfying meal.
'Seriously large' chips at Nando's (Photo by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Although that was what we ate for a quick meal there is a wide range of options and given the quality of what we ate this time, I'm very keen to try some of the other dishes.
Vegetarians are well catered for and even vegans as well as those who are gluten and sulphide intolerant.
As an option to the chains of burgers and chicken in a roll Nandos offers a real, and inexpensive, alternative.
Oh, and if you want the experience and taste without actually having to dine there you can buy just the sauces and marinades to cook with in the comfort of your own home.
If you go to their website they will even suggest meals and provide recipes, such as the Peri-Peri Prawns.