common pepper

Piri piri

African birdseye (or African devil or African red devil) is a cultivar of the chili pepper that grows both wild and domesticated. It is a small and extremely spicy member of the capsicum plant genus.

The plants are usually very bushy and grow in height to 45-120 centimeters, with leaves of 4-7 cm length and 1.3-1.5 cm width. The fruits are generally tapered to a blunt point and measure up to 2.5 centimeters long. Immature pod color is green, mature color is bright red or purple. Some varieties of birdseye measure up to 175,000 Scoville Heat Units.


Piri-piri, peri-peri or peli-peli is the name used in the ex-Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola to describe the African bird's-eye chili. The variations in spelling derive from the various pronunciations of the word in parts of Africa, although "piri-piri" is the correct spelling in Portuguese.

In Mozambican cuisine, piri-piri is often used in preparing sauces and marinades for roast and grilled dishes, especially chicken and various fish. Piri-piri is widely used in a vast number of dishes of Portuguese cuisine.

Nando's, the Portuguese-themed chicken restaurant, originated in South Africa from Portuguese who left Mozambique after the independence in 1975. The chain uses piri-piri in many of its dishes, and helped popularise them worldwide. The company, however, prefers the common South African spelling peri peri on its menus and branded sauces.


In Northeastern Brazil the pepper is known as the malagueta (a term also used in Portugal, but generally for bigger varieties of chili), and it is by far the most common pepper found in both the food and the markets of the region. It is commonly used as an ingredient in the cuisine of Bahia, and as a condiment in the rest of the Northeast.

Piri-piri Sauce

This is the hot West African sauce made from dried and soaked piri-piri chillies that is a staple condiment used to accompany many West African soups and stews. Though the origin of this sauce is probably Portuguese, it is now well established as a popular West African condiment and is considered an essential accompaniment to any meal in many households.

Piri-piri sauce is also the name given in Portugal to most hot sauces, especially those created with piri-piri. Another explanation for the naming of the piri piri sauce is that it originated from the Gujarati term piri piri, meaning very yellow, in reference to the color of the sauce in the former Portuguese Indian colonies of Daman and Diu. The yellow color of the sauce was imparted by a combination of chilis and turmeric.


In Japanese, in some cases, the term piri piri is used to describe something stinging on the tongue.

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