ChickenMalia Howe

Piri Piri Chicken

ChickenMalia Howe
Piri Piri Chicken

This is apparently a popular South African chicken dish. I have never had official South African cuisine, but if this is what South African food is like I want lots more of it. My husband described this dish as a cross between Caribbean jerk chicken and the Indian Tandoori Masala Chicken--and that's really a good description. The flavor is intense--citrusy, deep, complex, and with a pleasant spice to it that gives it a good kick. I cut the amount of cayenne pepper in half, and I don't think any native Midwesterner could take it full-strength. My lips were slightly burning, but it seemed just right. This chicken will be made often in our home. If it weren't such a rainy day I would have had my husband grill the chicken, but honestly, the sear in the skillet and finish in the oven method is really working for me these days. You gotta try this one.

Piri Piri Chicken (also known as Peri Peri Chicken, so I've read)

-adapted from the


  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper (I cannot endorse adding a full teaspoon. Your life is in your hands)
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 1T. white vinegar

Whisk everything together except chicken, and place in a large bowl. Or, do as I do, and do this in a very large Ziploc bag set inside a large bowl. Less mess, less germs, happy Malia. Place the chicken in the marinade and stick in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight. I put mine in the marinade first thing this morning. When you are ready to roll, you can grill the chicken (discarding the marinade), or use the skillet method. Heat some canola oil (2 T or so) in a cast iron or other oven proof skillet over med-high heat. Sear the chicken breasts until nicely browned (about 4-5 minutes per side) and then pour in the marinade. Stick the skillet in the oven at 350 and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is done. Serve with grain of your choice (we did baked brown rice) and garnish with sliced lemons. If you want some extra spice, spoon some of the onions atop the chicken and rice--they hold most of the heat from the cayenne.