This blog was very nearly about spareribs until I walked into the vegetable market of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. You see, I’m a massive peri-peri sauce fan and this market is full of it. Not only can you buy an assortment of jars, bottles and flasks filled with home-made concoctions, you can also get your hands on a seemingly endless supply and variety of the ingredients needed to make such a sauce.
Take, for example, the African bird’s eye chilli (better known by its street name, the peri-peri chilli). In the space of a few metres and minutes, I’d stocked up on African bird’s eye chillies of all sorts: fresh green and red, dried, flakes, powdered, in a paste and as a sauce.
Next on my shopping list to make a peri-peri sauce was garlic, real Mozambique garlic that looks and tastes like garlic. This garlic isn’t modified, developed or bred to be bigger and better looking on supermarket shelves and ultimately tasteless.
You need either lemon or lime juice, so I bought a kilogram of both (the lime juice went into my sauce, the lemons were used for gin and tonics). You’ll also need normal white spirit vinegar and olive oil (I had brought along a bottle of each from South Africa) as well as a bag of coarse sea salt and some paprika powder.
From the market, I hopped on a boat for a one-hour journey across the bay to Inhaca Island. My mission to make a peri-peri sauce wasn’t the chief reason for the visit to our neighbouring country; instead the goal was a mammoth peri-peri prawn braai session (Mozambique has an abundance of prawns and this braai featured tiger prawns as big as crayfish, with some king and queen prawns on the side). Done over hot coals, a prawn braais in about six minutes, but first you need to marinate them in the peri-peri sauce for an hour.
The prawn feast was followed by a midday nap and I then caught a boat to one of the top snorkelling spots on Inhaca Island. While I didn’t manage to find Nemo, I did meet a few thousand of his friends in various colourful shapes and sizes.
I ended the day with local fishermen on their dhow for a sunset cruise (my definition) and fishing (their definition) and walked away with a big and very fresh couta, which was braaied with, you guessed it, peri-peri sauce.
I’ve braaied in a number of scenic places over the past few years and the facilities and view at Nahyeeni Lodge on Inhaca Island rank up there with the best. It’s essentially a very nice holiday house with a great braai area and deck overlooking Maputo Bay.
Super-hot Mozambican peri-peri sauce recipe
Use this to marinate prawns or to make Portuguese chicken, both of which go well with a Portuguese roll to mop up the sauce.
In a clean glass jar, combine:
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tot chilli powder
- 1 tot paprika
- 1 tot salt
- 1 tot chopped garlic
- 10 African bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped (don’t remove the seeds as this is where the heat is)
Put the lid on the jar, shake well and you’re done. The sauce improves with time and will be even better – and more fiery – after standing for an hour or even a day.
If you want the sauce hotter, add more chillies and chilli powder.
Photo by Stephanus Rabie