I have posted this recipe for Peri Peri Chicken before – back in March 2014 – but after making the recipe part of a chicken feature for the Sunday Times Food Weekly recently, I wanted to share it again with updated photos and because it is so incredibly delicious. It is my favourite chicken recipe of all time.

Peri Peri Chicken


We South Africans love our peri peri chicken, you will find many peri peri restaurants and I guess the fast food chain Nandos must have played a role in spreading the word about this delicious Southern African way of cooking chicken as they opened more and more branches all over the world.

Peri Peri Chicken

Peri Peri (or Piri Piri) is also called African bird’s eye chili. It is a small chili that grows in southern Africa as well as Nigeria and Ghana, South Sudan and Ethiopia. Peri Peri sauce is Portuguese in origin and is made and used mostly in South Africa,  Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa. The sauce in this recipe (originally from Donna Hay and I found this recipe on Feasting at Home) is a very loose interpretation of a peri peri sauce (for which there is no definitive recipe as far as I know). I played around with the recipe and it is basically a spicy sauce to marinade and baste the chicken with while it roasts.

Peri Peri Chicken

What makes this recipe even better is the layer of thinly sliced potatoes soaking up all the sauce and chicken fat as the chicken roasts. Next level comfort food I promise you.

Peri Peri Chicken

I had a bottle of chipotle (smoke-dried jalapeno) paste which I used in the recipe. I loved the smokiness that it added to the marinade and think it is quite essential in this recipe. But feel free to substitute if you can not find smoked chili. Also amend the amount of chili you use to your personal taste. But do make it! You will not be disappointed. And make sure to read the wonderful wine pairing by Cape Wine Master, Conrad Louw just below.


Wine Pairing by Conrad Louw CWM :

When pairing wine with food, as previously mentioned, your wine choice has the potential to turn the dish into something really awesome.  However, it can also be a mediocre experience.  So the factors you always need to keep in mind when pairing wine with food, are: the weight, acidity, sweetness, salt, tannin and flavour characteristic and intensity.  So depends on how much heat you want to add to the Peri-Peri, you might want to consider beer.  South Africa has so many fantastic craft beers on the market, that your choices would be endless.  But we are talking wine now.
A variety many people used to know ages ago, but of late as a single variety, has become rather scarce, is Cinsault or Cinsaut (pronounced “sin-so”). It is usually used as a blending partner to other varieties. Cinsaut had its origins in Languedoc, France, and is proudly one of the parent grapes of our own Pinotage.  It was crossed with Pinot Noir, and was previously called Hermitage.

Depending on the oaking regime the flavour profile of Cinsaut can vary from raspberries and strawberries, with a touch of vanilla; to cherries, exotic spices like cardamom and musk, with smoky cigar tobacco and leather.  Cinsaut is a lighter style wine but absolutely delicious to drink.  Of late, there is a revival towards Cinsaut, and many winemakers have changed their approach to winemaking when it comes to Cinsaut.

I love smoked jalapenos and smoked paprika, so when it came to trying Hein’s chicken out, I grabbed my recently acquired bottle of Eenzaamheid Cinsaut 2015 (Wine of Origin Paarl).  It was a delicious match, and the danger exists that you may want to open a second bottle before you are done with this “weekend comfort food”. Serve it slightly chilled.

Ask your wine merchant to assist you in obtaining a good bottle of Cinsaut.


Best Peri Peri Chicken Ever


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 700g potatoes, thinly sliced and covered with cold water until needed
  • salt
  • leaves from a few sprigs of thyme
  • Peri Peri Marinade:
  • 2 smoked jalapeños chillies or 3 tsp chipotle paste (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or more to taste)
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup red or white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup Baleia Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • good squeeze of lemon juice
  • fresh limes for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
  2. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry
  3. Place on a cutting board, breast down and using your knife or kitchen scissors, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it. Turn the chicken over and press it flat.
  4. Place all the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend to a paste
  5. Taste the heat of the marinade and add more chilli or chilli flakes if needed
  6. Brush a thick layer of marinade on the bottom of a fairly deep roasting pan
  7. Remove the potatoes from the water and pat dry
  8. Place the potatoes on top of the marinade and sprinkle with some salt and the thyme leaves.
  9. Brush the chicken all over with about half of the marinade (don’t worry if some of the marinade ends up on the potatoes, you want that to happen)
  10. Place the chicken skin side down on the potatoes, place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes
  11. Turn the chicken over, brush the chicken all over with half of the left over marinade and roast for a further 15 minutes
  12. Brush the chicken again with the last bit of marinade and roast for a further 20 minutes until cooked and the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh
  13. Return the chicken to the oven and increase the heat of the oven up to grill and grill the chicken for about 10 minutes to crisp the skin (you want the marinade to scorch a bit but keep an eye not to burn the skin too much)
  14. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes
  15. While the chicken rests, gently stir the potatoes through the juices in the pan and place back in the oven under the grill for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy on top (keep a watch that it does not burn)
  16. Serve the chicken and potatoes with a few wedges of lime to squeeze over the chicken (and lots of serviettes!)
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* This recipe first appeared in the Sunday Times Food Weekly
** Disclaimer: Olive oil sponsored by Baleia Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I am proud to be associated with Baleia Olive Oil and use it whenever a recipe requires Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The cold press extra virgin Olive Oil is produced in the Riversdale area, has a whiff of fresh cut grass and aromas of green tomatoes, almonds artichokes and green apples.

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