I’m sure you’ll agree that few do grilled chicken better than Nando’s. I love the way they make that beautiful, flavorful chicken: crispy skin beautifully charred and flame grilled. A simple marinated grilled chicken that’s an all-round winner. And I assure you, this blog is not sponsored 🙂

Peri Peri Chicken is a classic Portuguese dish, introduced by Nando’s in late 1987 in South Africa. Peri peri, aka African Bird’s Eye Chili, is derived from the Swahili word ‘pili pili’, which literally means pepper or spicy chili. The classic peri peri sauces are a blend of bird’s eye chili, garlic, herbs and lemon – a combination that if done properly simply melts into your mouth. A variety of peri peri sauce flavors are readily available across the globe in most major grocery stores.

So how about making Nando’s-inspired Peri Peri Chicken at home? I have been making peri peri sauce from scratch at home and have perfected the recipe over multiple iterations and testing it on friends and family.

Today, I share with you my version of Peri Peri Chicken. I have substituted bird’s eye chili with a combination of red chilies available in our local markets. I love the lemon garlic and medium Peri Peri sauce the most, and the blend of lemon and chili gives a real kick to this recipe. For the best results, marinade the chicken overnight before grilling. I have tried doing this in the oven, in an air fryer and even on a stove with a grill pan. I have loved it each time. I served the chicken with thickly cut chips and Peri Peri Rice which I cooked with the leftover marinate, and they taste just like the rice you get at Nando’s!

Here’s how you do it – enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken – 4 tikka pieces with the skin
  • Dried Kashmiri Red Chilies – 4 (adjust to taste)
  • Button Red Chilies – 4 (adjust to taste)
  • Red Capsicum – 1 (if you can't find red, green are fine)
  • Lemon Juice – 4 to 6 tablespoons
  • Paprika Powder – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Oregano – 1 teaspoon
  • Red Chili Flakes – ½ teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon
  • Oil – 4 tablespoons
  • Garlic – 4 cloves (chopped)
  • Worcestershire Sauce – 2 tablespoons
  • Red Food Color (optional) – ¼ teaspoon (though I did not use any)
  • Preparation time : 15 – 20 minutes
  • Cooking time : 45 minutes
  • Number of servings (yield) : 4

Instructions:

  1. Take a big container full of cold water and add a spoon of salt, sugar, lemon juice. Then immerse the chicken in it for 1 to 2 hours
  2. Score chicken with a fork while it is being braised in the water.
  3. Meanwhile, in a blender, mix all ingredients and blend until a smooth marinate is made
  4. Remove one-third of the marinate to make a dipping sauce later
  5. Drain out the liquid and rinse the chicken properly. This will help the chicken get the most moistness and flavor when marinaded
  6. Marinate the chicken with the prepared sauce, making sure it goes into the slits
  7. Cover and refrigerate overnight (at the minimum)
 

Cooking Method 1

  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Grill the chicken first on a grill pan for 5 minutes on each side to give it beautiful charred-grilled marks and flavor
  3. Place the chicken on a greased tray, brush some sauce on top and bake for 20 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius. Flip sides after 10 minutes
  4. After 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 120 degrees Celsius and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes
  5. Keep brushing the chicken with sauce once or twice while it is baking to keep it moist
  6. Once done, serve immediately or keep covered to retain moisture
 

Cooking Method 2

  1. On medium heat, cook the chicken along with the whole marinate until the chicken is just about completely cooked
  2. Grill the chicken on a grill pan for 5 minutes on each side to give it the grill marks and flavor
  3. Brush the chicken with sauce once or twice while grilling
 

Dipping Sauce

  1. Pour one-third of the marinate saved earlier in a pan
  2. Add a cup of water and simmer until the sauce thickens

Fatima Ali

I am trained to be an IT professional. I served National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) for six years after graduating from the same university. As long as I can remember, cooking good food has been my passion and it makes me happy. My cooking lessons were a bit unusual though. Back in the day when digital did not mean much, my father would record cooking shows (knorr ka kitchen, kaukab khuwaja and Zee Khana Khazana – Chef Sanjeev Kapoor) for me to watch endless times later on, before trying the recipes out. I would make brownies and cold cake almost every day while my mother was asleep. This was my way of surprising her every evening. My mother cooks amazing food too and I have tried many of the recipes written in her recipe book. I draw inspiration from a number of chefs from televised cooking shows such as Late Chef Farah, Chef Rahat, Chef Mehboob, BBC Food, Masala TV, Chef Shai, Chef Sharmeen, Master Chef Australia and my ultimate favorite Chef Shireen Anwer. I would not be as good a cook I am now without passive guidance from each one of these.